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Lecture 1

Introduction - Orthodox World View


This course is to give one a perspective on those things which are
happening in the world today which we come across in our daily experience,
everyone of which has a philosophical undercurrent. If one goes to any big city
one will find that there are churches of every description and they all offer a
different view, a different doctrine. The Catholics will tell you one thing, and the
Mormons will give you something else; the Seventh-Day Adventists will give
you something else quite definite; the Fundamentalists will say something else;
the liberal Protestants will give you another current; the Theosophists will give
you something else. And a person in search of truth goes perhaps from one to the
other looking for the truth. Quite often people find, Aha, I found it! -something clicks. They find that Mormonism has the answer; or else they are
very impressed by a speaker who knows how to get in touch with, well, the
contemporary people.
There was one, for example, Alan Watts, who died just recently. I was a
student of his. In fact, I was extremely impressed because I was an undergraduate
looking for some kind of truth in philosophy, not finding it. I was very bored by
Western philosophy, and all of a sudden he comes and gives a lecture on Zen
Buddhism. And [I thought] that is the answer because its not a philosophy; its
just the way things are. He said it's not the looking at the glass of water and
defining it but -- and he takes the glass of water and pours it out on the stage,
very dramatic -- that's what Zen Buddhism is, its the answer; its IT.
Of course throughout the perspective of many years, we can see that this
poor man is simply a very clever man. He was very much in contact with the
way people were thinking; and he got onto one little sort of channel and followed
it all the way and made his career out of it, made lots of money, got people as his
sort of followers; and simply taught them. There were lots of things he said
which were true, especially the negative part about whats wrong with
contemporary civilization. But in the end he just gave them some pitiful little
shred of truth combined with a lot of his own opinions and in the end a great
system of lies; and he destroyed souls including his own undoubtedly.
But Orthodoxy is not like one of these currents, systems of thought; it is
not simply one among many. And that is why some might think, especially the
newly converted will say, Why havent I heard of Orthodoxy before, why isnt it
on television? Why cant I hear it? Why arent there radio programs and
newspaper articles and everything like that? Well, if you look at the newspaper
articles which there are about Orthodoxy, which happened occasionally -- like
when the weeping icons came to some cities, there were articles; or when even
when Archbishop John died in San Francisco there was an article, various sort of
events which stand out, become a part of the history, the whole event in the city,
and look at what kind of newspaper articles are written -- the view of Orthodoxy
there is adapted to the readers. That is, this is a sect which is very colorful; it is
like the Mormons or the Seventh-Day Adventists or something else. Its different,
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its colorful. And if you read descriptions of the Pascha services, they will always
say something like, Amid clouds of incense and flowing robes and long beards,
and everything which is exotic and different from what the ordinary the American
sees; thats about what Orthodoxy is for them. That is, in that kind of view
Orthodoxy is some kind of a Christian philosophy which is mainly characterized
by some kind of exoticness. If you want the exotic, you go there. But that is not
what Orthodoxy is.
If you give your heart and soul to one of these teachings, the various
Christian or non-Christian teachings, you will get from your sect -- because all of
them are sects, including Roman Catholicism -- you will get from your sect what
they think probably is a philosophy of life, they will give you the answers to
many questions. They will give you answers which you will accept if you are on
their wave-length -- usually depends upon your background, your psychological
strivings, how much education youve had. Therere all kinds of factors which
enter in, which make you click, respond to the particular sect.
Once you give your heart and soul there, or at least part of them, you will
begin to accept whatever they teach you, and form yourself on that basis. And
then when somebody comes to you and asks why you believe, you give answers
the way youve learned them. And a person from outside will look at those
answers and be astonished at how a person can give such answers. Its obvious
they are a party line. They will quote you Scriptures in accordance with a
interpretation which seems very far-fetched, and they will think that this is
logical, the ordinary explanation. You talk to the Seventh Day Adventists who are
our neighbors here, and you begin to ask them what they believe, and why they
believe, and it turns out that the commandment about Saturday is the most
important of all the commandments, the one that distinguishes the real people,
the real church from everybody else. How can they get that, and how can they
explain the fact that Christ always appears on Sunday, the first day of the week?
He rose from the dead on Sunday. After His Resurrection, it was early on Sunday
-- how it is that the Church didnt believe this for two thousand years? And they
will even tell you that there were Adventists and the Seventh Day people all the
time. And they can even build up some kind of tradition for it, some kind of
[saying something like], Well, maybe this sect did exist throughout the
centuries. But what they will give you will not be a world-view, a philosophy.
What they will give you will be a sectarian view.
A sectarian view is, like the name implies, sect: it is something which is
cut off. They will give you a piece of reality according to their interpretation.
When it comes to any complicated issue, they will give you a very simple answer
which is not satisfying to somebody whos capable of thinking very much. They
will, if anything comes up which seems to disprove their position or make it
foggy, they will say, Devils work or, Thats evil, or [if] you ask them how
they interpret the Scriptures, literally. They will give you extremely simple
answers to questions which are very complicated. And you have to already be in
that channel in order to accept it. And you will become -- as we indeed associate
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with sectarians -- some kind of group cut off from the rest of society, keeping
your own little view point, preserving yourself from everybody else, having your
own schools and thinking that you are in the truth. But you will not have some
kind of philosophy, world-view, which will enable you really to understand what
goes on in the world, to explain those phenomena around you in a way which
does not do violence to reason, is not just an interpretation according to a very
whimsical interpretation of Scripture, but is something which is solidly based,
and is perhaps not convincing right off to everybody, but at least respects reason
which God gave us, and does not have an overly-simplified view of whatever is
happening in the world, [a view that] whoever does not agree with my philosophy
is either a devil or a person whos completely deceived.
On the contrary, many things which happen in the world have their power:
ideas have their power, political systems have their power, even art movements
have their power because there is some seed of truth in them. And if you dont
understand what that seed of truth is and how it got mixed up with error, what it
in it is genuine, what in it is fake, you will not be able to be living in the world
today; and a Christian lives in the world. You must understand, that a sectarian
saves himself, and he saves anybody he can keep away from reality, keep in his
little corner some place. But if that person goes out in the world and starts asking
questions, he loses his sectarian views because its not plausible. He has to keep
his sectarian faith in a little corner someplace, a piece of society.
An Orthodox world-view is not like that. Today, the true Orthodox
Christians are very few. And therefore we are called by some, like Schmemann
and the people who are up-to-date and want to be in step with Catholics and
Protestants and contemporary thought -- they will say we are a sect. Therefore
we should know, are we a sect or not? If we have our Orthodoxy as something
like Mormonism, that is, if we know the catechism, know the dogmas, and can
expound the official teaching of faith, and everything outside of that is
something hazy or given an over-simplified answer, then we are in danger of
this very sectarianism. Because then Orthodoxy will be for us something which
is very narrow. The path of salvation is very narrow, but Orthodoxy alone of all
the religions is Gods religion; and therefore it does not deny those faculties
which God gave us, especially reason which is the faculty by which we
understand Truth.
And so it is that Orthodoxy is the one religion because it is the true
religion, Gods religion, which has the answer to all, which understands
everything which happens in the world. That does not mean that we have
necessarily an absolute answer to everything, because thats also a characteristic
of sectarian mentality: they have an instant answer and they give it to you very
simplified and theres no argument. With Orthodoxy, rather, we open our minds
because since we have the truth we are not afraid of whatever science may say,
or philosophy or writers, artists. We are not afraid of them; we can look at them
with our Orthodox understanding and with an open mind and with an open heart
to see what really is positive and understand whether they are valuable or not
valuable, whether they are beneficial, whether they are harmful.
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And so we can look around us at any phenomenon. The sectarian will


look around him and say, Thats evil: cut it off. And with many things, of
course, you have to do that, because there are things which, now especially, are
flagrantly inciting to sin. But even in turning away from them and not exposing
ourselves to temptation as much as possible, we have to understand why they
are that way, why, what is happening.
There are things which do not have an immediate answer to a person who
has a Orthodox world-view. There are certain things which you cannot explain
immediately just on the basis of knowing about God, the Holy Trinity and the
basic teaching of the Church. For example, its characteristic now that our times
is called post-Christian times; its also post-philosophical times, because there
was a time when philosophy was very much alive in the West. In fact, [Ivan]
Kireyevsky the nineteenth-century Russian writer says that up until the early to
middle nineteenth century, philosophy was the current, the main current of
European thought, because what the philosophers were thinking was the thing
which was most exciting, most interesting, and was the thing which then went
into the people. In a very short time, whatever one person had thought through in
his cabinet some place in a city in Germany would, within a few years, already
become the property of the whole people -- until philosophy came to the end of
its rope, which was in about the middle of the nineteenth century when
Kireyevsky was alive. Because it so happened that after destroying the outer
universe with the philosophy of Hume and Berkeley and so forth, the philosophy,
in order to find some foundation on which to base itself, finally settled on Kant
who said that all there is, is the individual, and I make my own universe; we
dont know what the thing in itself is, what is out there; but I am the one who
puts everything in order, and if I understand myself, I can make sense of the
universe. But this amounts to a very dangerous subjectivism, because in this
system theres no room for truth any more. Theres just room for some kind of
conventional view of things. And after him there came fantastic people, Fichte
and this Max Stirner and others who said that theres nothing in the world but me,
the I alone in the universe. And even Stirner came to the point where he said, I
am alone in the universe trampling on the tomb of humanity, something to that
effect. Which is sort of the logical conclusion of people who released thought
from any kind of restraints and decided to find where they could think things
through to. And when you think things through without any kind of traditional
basis, you come to a dead end.
After that, as Kireyevsky says, the main current of the West entered
politics. And thats why especially after 1848, and beginning in the French
Revolution, and especially strong after 1848, the main thing that was happening
in European and world history is the progress of the revolution, which we will
discuss later on.
So a person who wants to have an Orthodox understanding must be
prepared to look with an open mind and heart at what goes on in the world and
use his mind to find out what is responsible for it, what underlies this. And we
must do that now that the age of philosophy is passed and the views are very
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practically oriented. Its amazing how even in universities, the mind is not used at
all. Art criticism becomes just an excuse for your subjective taste; theres no
objective criteria left at all. In this kind of world, new philosophical beliefs and
very dangerous ideas are presented no longer as some kind of truth which you
can easily understand as being false, but they are presented as something else.
For example, people who take drugs will tell you: I am uncovering new
areas of reality. Are you against new areas of reality? Are you against the deeper
area of the mind? Actually, Holy Fathers talk about [the] deeper area of the
mind -- and what are you going to say to that? Hes not giving you some kind of
new truth to which you can say, Thats false; hes giving you some kind of new
outlook. And you have to stop and think, well, what does this mean? What is the
deeper area of the mind? Who is there, whats going on? You have to be able to
evaluate what is behind this kind of statement and whether, in fact, its a very
practical thing because a person might come to you and say: Should I stop this
or go on with it? or Is this evil? And you have to know why. If you just say,
No, drugs are evil, thats out, then he very likely will not be convinced,
because somebody else will give him a very plausible excuse. You have to tell
him -- >course you have to tell him, You better stop because thats very
dangerous; but [you] also have to be able to say, if you have a complete
philosophy of life, why this is not right and where its going to lead you.
There are also many kinds of advances in science to which there are
hooked up philosophical views. For example, evolution, of course, is a big one;
and its a very complicated thing to which you do not immediately get an answer.
A sectarian will say, Well, its against Genesis; its against the literal
interpretation. And thats very easy to just pick to pieces because if you interpret
Genesis absolutely literally, like they would like to, you come to ridiculous
absurdities.
Or, also theres such a thing as the idea that now we are able to govern our
own future. Therefore, we will determine in test-tubes whether a child is going
to be male or female and give him the brains of Einstein or something like that.
You have to know if this is good or bad. Whats going on? On what basis can I
criticize this?
And, of course, its very important to be able to see through what goes on
in the political world because in free societies people go and vote. You have to
know what value is voting or what is the whole thing behind politics. Is it worth
while taking part in this? Is this good, evil? Lets have some kind of view of it.
The same way with music and art -- music especially since its so all-pervading in
society; you go to supermarket and you get music. Theres a whole philosophy in
back of why you get the kind of music you do in the supermarket; and you have
to understand what this music is trying to do to you, what is back of it. Theres a
whole philosophy to it.
If you ask a sectarian to give you a world-view, a whole overview of
whats happening in the world, they will, again, give you a very narrow thing
which has lots of points of truth in it because they read the Scriptures; and they
can tell you about the end of the world, the Apocalypse, Antichrist, and give you
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even a plausible view of whats going on in the world. And they can tell you
that....
Theres this thing called The Plain Truth, this magazine which -- he says,
Its plain truth. I discovered the plain truth which was hidden for two thousand
years. I discovered it, sitting down in my closet and thinking it through, and
nobody else thinks these thing through except me. And here it is. This is where it
is, just plain and simple. And he gives you a lot of hogwash, having his
subjective view of things, where he can present this where its just plain and
simple, and thats the way it is. And millions of people follow him; not all of
them are his actual [followers], part of his cult, but many people take it very
seriously and think it makes very great sense. And he will tell you all kinds of
things: that Christ died on Wednesday and was resurrected on Saturday,
according to deductions from everything -- even though it says in the Scripture
early on the first day of the week. He has an explanation to explain that away,
and how it was really not Friday, but Wednesday, and how to account for three
days -- not the third day, but three days, seventy-two hours. And, well, he gives
you all kinds of fantastic things like that, mixed in with all kinds of true things.
And if you are not capable of discerning, you can get into all kinds of trouble.
Even our sectarians look very much to him because they have a very similar
outlook, they are the Seventh Day Adventists. And they will tell you that he talks
about the -- I forget what he calls it -- but after the first sixty years or something
of this era, some thirty years after the Resurrection of Christ, there is the missing
century or something like that. All of a sudden truth went out, underground or
away or something. It didnt come back again until this Armstrong appeared.
And the same thing is [true] with other sectarians: Ellen White has the
same kind of philosophy. There are different varieties of it. Some will say that it
was Constantine who did the bad things. Usually they date it much earlier so they
dont have to accept anything that comes after that. And they cant explain very
well how it is that it was a Council of the Church in the second, early third
century that determined the canon of Scripture. So you have to get people to
understand how a Council could determine that, if the Council was already in an
apostate state. But they accept that decree of the Council. Its very interesting,
you can find it very illogical about that.
But for us, this is not some kind of very two-dimensional, simple thing to
understand what goes on in the world. So, we must understand first of all what is
world history, what are the forces that shape world history. And that is very
simple, basically, because there is a God and there is the devil; and world history
goes on between these two adversaries. And man, mans heart is the field on
which it is played out.
If you read the Old Testament, you will find a remarkable history which is
different from the history of any other country. In other countries there are rulers
[who] rise and fall: there is tyranny, there are democratic paradises, there are
wars, sometimes the righteous triumph, sometimes the unrighteous triumph; and
the whole of history is extremely skeptical. Historians will tell you their chronicle
of crimes and savagery -- and no meaning. And what happens to come out is
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some chance event which no one can see any meaning for. But in the History of
Israel we see a very deep thing which is the history of the chosen people of God
which is now following Gods commandments, and now falling away; and its
history depends upon how it is, whether its following God or falling away from
Him. It becomes very complicated when they are taken away from Egypt into the
wilderness, and they are going at a very short distance away - which now you can
do in a day and about a week, and then you could do it in a week or two -- and
they spent forty years in the wilderness and went through all kinds of adventures
because they were wavering between right belief in God and falling away from
Him, to such an extent that when Moses was gone for a short time to the mount to
receive the commandments of God and meet God Himself, the people were
worshipping a golden calf.
The whole history of Israel is this history between belief and unbelief,
between following God and turning away from God. And the history of Israel
becomes in the New Testament the history of the Church, the new Israel. And the
history of humanity from the time Christ came to earth until now is the history of
the Church and of those peoples who either come to the Church or fight against
the Church, or come to the Church and fall away from it. World history, from that
time to this, makes sense only if you understand there is some plan going on,
which is the plan of God for the salvation of men. And you have to have a clear
understanding of Christianity, of what Orthodoxy is, what salvation is in order to
understand how this plan is manifested in history.
The history of mankind for the first millennium of the Christian era is the
history of the spread of the Gospel to various lands. Some of them accepted,
some with great readiness, some less readily. Usually the simple peoples accept
much more readily. And sometimes temptations come, heresies come, which are
the tares sown by the devil to upset people, bring them away from the truth. And
therefore we have the Ecumenical Councils and the writings of the Fathers to
teach us what is the right approach to truth and what is the wrong. And when
there came dangerous errors, heresies, the Church condemned them. And those
who were clinging to those errors against the Church were anathematized, and
they went out from the Church. So very early there are groups, heresies which
broke away from the Church, but the Church itself was the main group which
survived even though at times it was reduced to very small numbers because of
heresies. Always it came back, and for the first millennium it was the dominant
belief in peoples from Byzantium all the way to Britain, and eastern -- not so
strong. In the East the peoples are more sophisticated, more philosophical; they
had their own beliefs; its much more difficult to get through to them. The simple
peoples accepted much more readily.
And then there was a very important event happening which determines
the history of the next thousand years, but it gives a direction to it. Because,
well, to understand what this is, we should look at our situation today.
Orthodoxy, according to an objective observer looking at it, is one view
among many; its a minority view and it is very much against the spirit of the
times. Thats why these Schmemanns and so forth are trying to update it, bring it
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back into the main current so they will not be laughed at. It is something which is
very much out-of-date, it makes no sense in terms of pluralism or being at home
with other faiths, and simply, it is not credible. There are many other faiths
which, because they are more adapted to the times, seem much more credible,
when a Catholic can get along with a up-to-date Lutheran or a Baptist or even a
fundamentalist much better than he can with a genuine Orthodox Christian
because they have much more in common. Kalomiros notes that Orthodoxy is
distinguished from all these Westerners because they all have the same
background, the same formation. But Orthodoxy is different from all of them. It
stands against all of them, because all the rest of them -- even though they are
opposed to each other -- stand together because they are formed from the same
mentality, the Western mentality.
The Western mentality was once Orthodox. And therefore we look at the
whole history of the West of the last thousand years, which seems not to have
contact with Orthodoxy. We look at art and from the very beginning, theres a
remnant of iconographic style, especially in Italy, but then very quickly its lost.
And Western art is something quite autonomous, and we have no contact with it
in Orthodoxy, and we cant understand [? tape unclear] that there seems to be
anything in common. Or, music, well, we Orthodox know our Church music. The
West had a great development of secular music, sometimes religious music, but
its not that same thing as we would call religious music.
We have the history of the rise and fall of nations, of monarchies, of
the principle of monarchy, of the principle of democracy, all different
political institutions, the history of Western philosophy from one system to
the other. And all these manifestations of the life of Western man for a
thousand years seem to have no common point with Orthodoxy. And
therefore, how can we understand those things on the basis of an Orthodox
point of view? What is in back of them? And this is where this important
thing comes in that happened a thousand years ago, which is the Schism of
the Church of Rome.
Many people in analyzing what goes on in the world today will go back to
the Enlightenment period, to the French Revolution. And beyond that you can go
back to the rise of science, the Renaissance, the Reformation. That seems to be
more the beginning of modern times. People who think a little more deeply will
go back further than that; and they will find that even at the end of the Middle
Ages there are many currents and anomalies and so forth that were leading away
from the Catholic synthesis, the Scholastic synthesis of the thirteenth century. But
we have to go back further than that because, if you go back even then to the
thirteenth century or even the twelfth century, you see something which is still
quite foreign to Orthodoxy.
These Scholastic philosophers are quite different from Orthodox
theologians. The art even of that time, Giotto, if you look at the paintings of
Giotto who is supposed to be really primitive, as primitive as you can get almost
in the West, you will see that the principles by which he paints are totally foreign
to Orthodoxy, he introduces.... He paints many pictures of Francis of Assisi and
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introduces a element of drama, of quaintness, of cuteness, which, of course, a


person educated by icons will look at it and say, This is not serious; this is some
kind of folk art or something, its not serious. But Giotto is an artist in the best
Western tradition, very much appreciated for his primitivity and closeness to
Byzantium tradition and everything else. But already this anecdotal, unserious
feeling of his makes him totally foreign to Orthodox icons.
And, of course, the same way with Saints; they already -- the Western
Saints theyre called -- are very different from Orthodox Saints. Already theres
something entered in. Its very interesting, theres a Catholic ecumenist,
Dominican, Yves Congar, who wrote a book in 1954 called Nine Hundred Years
After about the Schism of 1054; and he said it is really unfortunate that the
Orthodox Church broke away from Rome at that time, or vice versa, however he
says, ....(tape break)
...the writings of Kireyevsky, who himself went through Western wisdom,
rejected it, found Orthodoxy, and then came back, not to be Orthodox as against
the world without understanding, but he found in Orthodoxy the key to
understand the history of the West, and the understanding of what is happening
in the West.
1. Source for this? Cf. The Ego and His Own, Max Stirner, My concern is
neither the Godly nor the Human, is not the True, the Good, the Right, the Free,
etc., but simply my own self, and it is not general, it is individual. For me there is
nothing above myself. Quoted in The Great Quotations, comp. by Georges
Seldes, Pocket Books, 1967, p. 859.
2. Armstrong, Herbert W., The Early Writings of Herbert W. Armstrong,
Richard C. Nickels, ed., Giving and Sharing, Neck City, Missouri, 1996, p. 140,
quoting from The United States in Prophecy, 1945: Whether skeptic, atheist,
church member or Spirit-filled Christian, you will find here an amazing truth,
long hidden. It is startling revelation. While condensed and brief, it is plain and
simple, understandable, and a truth that stands PROVED. No story of fiction was
so strange, so absorbing, so packed with suspense, as this gripping story of the
Bible. P. 163: This disclosure is so amazing, so different from the common
conception, you probably did not really grasp it all the first reading. Much in the
early pages will take on a different light when reread.... It will become twice as
interesting, twice and REAL!
3. Ibid., p. 179, quoting from The Plain Truth 1934 editorial: The real
TRUTH is simple and plain, not hard and difficult.
4. Mark 16:2,9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1.
5. Armstrong, Early Writings, Which Day is the Sabbath of the New
Testament? p. 49.
6. Congar, Yves, Nine Hundred Years After, Greenwood Press, Westport,
Connecticut, 1959.
7. Not an exact quote, but a paraphrase of the whole theme of Congars book.
Lecture 2
9

The Middle Ages


Now begins a series of lectures on the intellectual history of the modern
age, that is, from the time of the Schism of Rome. This will not actually be a
history of the intellectual currents. It will be a noting of the tendencies and
movements which are of historical significance, which are symptomatic of the
spirit of the age and point to future developments. We will try to distinguish the
essential points from incidental ones, that is, the features which are characteristic
of the underlying philosophy of the times which endure from age to age, from
other views which simply depend on passing events. For example, we are not
interested that some of the Franciscan spirituals thought that Frederick II was
Antichrist or the world would end in 1260, or that in the nineteenth century
William Miller thought the end of the world would occur on a certain day in
1844; but the chiliastic views which underlie these very foolish views are what
we will be discussing and talking about, because these are the views which help
to determine our outlook today.
I will repeat something I said in the introductory lecture that the reason we
are doing this is not just to have a view of what is true and what is false, and
throw out everything which is false and keep everything which is true, because
everything Im going to be talking about is false. But it will be extremely
important for us to understand why it is false and how it went away from the
truth. If we understand that, we have some idea of what goes on in the world
today, and what is the intellectual structure against which we must fight.
Although, while saying that everything Im going to talk about is false, I
mean its false from the strictly Orthodox point of view. There, the whole, of
course, is relative compared with what happens in the world today. All of these
movements we talk about -- Thomas Aquinas to Medieval art, to European
Renaissance art and so forth -- they all are very much more valuable than
anything that has been happening in the world today. Nonetheless, there is a
whole underlying world-view which produced these things, and we can see how
it was departing from Orthodoxy.
The history of the West from the Schism of Rome is a logical and coherent
whole, and the views which govern mankind today are a direct result of the
views held in the thirteenth century. And now that the Western philosophy
dominates the entire world, there is no other philosophy except the Orthodox
Christian philosophy which has any strength to it, because all civilizations have
been overwhelmed by the West, this means that what happened in the West in
these last nine hundred years is the key to understanding what is happening in
the whole world today.
The very term Middle Ages is an interesting one because it exists only
in the West. All other civilizations, whether Christian, such as Byzantium or
Russian, or non-Christian, such as the Chinese or Indian, can be divided into two
periods, that is, the ancient period when these civilizations were governed by
their own native philosophy, world-view, tradition, and the modern period when
they became overwhelmed by the West. And theres no noticeable shading from
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one to the other. Its merely a matter of one being overwhelmed by the other.
But in the West, something special happened in the period called the
Middle Ages, which is the transition between antiquity, that is, Christian
antiquity, and the modern age. And the study of what happened when these
changes were occurring, especially around the twelfth to thirteenth centuries,
gives the key to what is happening in the present time. And we will try to see now
how the modern world-view developed out of Orthodoxy, out of Christianity.
The root of the whole of modern history lies, as we have said, in the
Schism of the Church of Rome, about which Ivan
Kireyevsky speaks very nicely because, having himself been a son of the
West and gone to Germany to study with the most advanced philosophers, Hegel
and Schelling, he was thoroughly penetrated with the Western spirit, and then
became thoroughly converted to Orthodoxy, and therefore saw that these two
things cannot be put together. And he wanted to find out why they are different
and what is the answer in ones soul, what one has to choose.
So he says, first of all, that of course Rome was once a part of the universal
Church of Christ, and throughout the early centuries theres no doubt the Roman
Patriarchate is a perfectly legitimate Orthodox patriarchate, and even has a
primacy of honor which is the same as the Patriarch of Constantinople had until
recent times, and would have today if he were still Orthodox, which does not
mean that he is some kind of Pope, but only that he is the chief among equals;
that is, he presides over meetings of bishops and so forth.
But, as Kireyevsky says, now I quote: Each patriarchate, each tribe, each
country in the Christian world has not ceased to preserve its own characteristic
features while at the same time participating in the common unity of the whole
Church. Each people, as a result of local, tribal or historical circumstances, has
developed in itself some one aspect of mental activity, so that it is quite natural
that in its spiritual life and in the writings of its theologians it should hold to this
same special characteristic, however enlightened by a higher consciousness,
that is, the world-view of Orthodoxy. Thus the theological writers of the Syrian
lands turn their attention chiefly it seems to the inward contemplative life
detached from this world. The Roman theologians, on the other hand, were
especially occupied with aspects of practical activity and the logical connection
of concepts. But the spiritual writers of enlightened Byzantium, more than the
others, were interested in the relationship of Christianity to the separate sciences
which flourished around it, and at first made war against it, but then submitted to
it.
And now he speaks in particular of the West: It seems that the
distinguishing feature of the Roman mind is precisely a conviction that outward
rationalism outweighs the inward essence of things. Among all the features of
the Roman man and all of the windings of his activities of intellect and soul, we
see a single common feature, that the outward order of his logical concepts was
for him more real than reality itself, and that the inward balance of his existence
was known by him only in the balance of his rational conceptions or outward
formal activity.
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Then he speaks in particular of Blessed Augustine: No single ancient or


modern Father of the Church showed such love for the logical chain of truths as
Blessed Augustine.... Certain of his works are, as it were, a single iron chain of
syllogisms, inseparably joined link to link. Perhaps because of this he is
sometimes carried too far away, not noticing the inward one-sidedness of this
thinking because of its outward order; so much so that, in the last years of his
life, he himself had to write refutations of some of his earlier statements.
And we know, of course, that Augustine did go off on the question of free
will because he himself felt so strongly the action of grace in his conversion that
he did not fully appreciate the Orthodox Fathers patristic teaching on free will
which John Cassian in the West did appreciate and taught.
Again Kireyevsky says: Since the Roman minds special attachment to
the outward chain of concepts was not without danger to the Roman theologians,
even when the Roman Church was still a living part of the Ecumenical Church,
when the common consciousness of the whole Orthodox world restrained each
special characteristic in a lawful balance, it is understandable that after Rome
separated from the Orthodox Church, this particular trait became decisive and
dominant in the quality of the teachings of Roman theologians. It may even be
that this attachment to rationality, this excessive inclination towards the outward
thinking of concepts, was one of the chief reasons for the very falling away of
Rome. In any case, the pretext for the falling away is not subject to doubt. The
Latin Church added a dogma to the original symbol of faith, the Creed: an
addition which was contrary to ancient tradition in the common consciousness of
the Church and was justified solely by the logical deductions of Western
theologians.
And again he says, It is quite clear to us why Western theologians with all
of their logical scrupulousness could not see the unity of the Church in any other
way but through the outward unity of the episcopate. End of the quote from
him.
Now again, he talks about another point: And this also explains why they
could assign an essential worthiness to the outward works of a man; why, when a
soul was inwardly prepared but had an insufficiency of outward works, they
could conceive of no other means of his salvation than a definite period of
purgatory; why, finally, they could assign to certain men even an excess of
worthy outward deeds and give this worthiness to those who had insufficient
outward deeds. This means the whole Latin system of indulgences and the
supererogatory works of the saints of which there is a whole treasury of good
deeds, which are added up like in a bank, and when they have too many for their
salvation, they spill them out and the Pope distributes to other people, in a very
legalistic way.
When Rome separated from the Ecumenical Church, the Christianity of
the West received into itself the embryo of that principle which was the
common feature of the whole of Greco-pagan development: the principle of
rationalism. The Roman Church separated from the Eastern Church by
changing certain dogmas which had existed in the tradition of all of
12

Christianity, for other dogmas which were the result of mere logical
deductions.
The result is the Middle Ages, that is, Scholasticism. And about this
Kireyevsky says, Such an endless wearying play of conceptions for the duration
of seven hundred years. This useless kaleidoscope of abstract categories which
ceaselessly whirled before the mental gaze inevitably had to produce a general
blindness towards those living convictions which lie above the sphere of reason
and logic. For a man ascends to convictions not by the path of syllogisms; but, on
the contrary, when he strives to found his convictions upon syllogistic
deductions, he only distorts their truth if he does not annihilate them altogether.
And thus, the Western Church, even in the ninth century sowed within itself the
inevitable seed of the Reformation which placed this same Church before the
judgment of this same logical reason which the Roman Church had itself exalted.
Even a thinking man could already see Luther behind Pope Nicholas I, the Pope
who was excommunicating St. Photius, and pretending to be the head of the
Church in the later sense of the Popes. Just as in the words of Roman Catholics,
a thinking man of the sixteenth century could foresee behind Luther the
Protestant rationalists of the nineteenth century.
The Roman Church fell away from the truth only because it wished to
introduce into the faith new dogmas unknown to Church tradition and begotten
by the accidental conclusions of Western logic. From this there developed
Scholastic philosophy within the framework of faith, then a reformation in the
faith, and finally philosophy outside the faith. The first rationalists were the
Scholastics; one might say the ninth and the last rationalists are the Hegelians of
his day, one might say that nineteenth century Europe finished the cycle of its
development which had begun in the ninth.
That gives a very precise view which is a very plausible explanation of
the mechanism by which Rome left the Church and developed the whole of the
modern world-view which is so anti-Orthodox.
Its very difficult to go deeper than that, to find any sort of deeper reasons
because those things are hidden to us. The devil is constantly working. It may
well be that the devil was trying time after time and when he found the Egyptians
ready to go into the Monophysite Schism, perhaps he had plans to make them
into the instrument he would use to form the apostasy, or maybe the Armenian
mentality, and so forth; but it happened that it was the Roman mentality which
worked, because once having taken it away from Orthodoxy, free to develop
according to its own principles, it became a source of a whole new philosophy
which had a power to overwhelm the world, which it did finally in our time.
So with the Schism which became final about, we say, with 1054, the
excommunications of Rome and Constantinople, Roman logicalness is placed
above the unity of the Church, above the consciousness of the Church, so that the
Holy Spirit no longer guides it, as in the Orthodox Church, but now there is an
outward authority, the Pope. And the Western historians themselves make it quite
clear that at this time something new entered into the Church, into the West.
Before this there were temporary estrangements between East and West, [which]
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we see the time of St. Photius and Pope Nicholas I; there were even
excommunications, but then a restoration of communion. Charlemagne himself,
in making a rival empire in the West, also was the cause of friction; but it wasnt
until this eleventh century that the estrangement became now a separation.
And at that same time, there entered into the West this new principle which
is described in the book by a Dominican ecumenist, Yves Congar, After Nine
Hundred Years, talking about the possibilities of uniting with the East. He
mentions precisely this as one of the things which will have to be overcome
before there can be union. He says: A Christian of the Fourth or Fifth Century
would have felt less bewildered by the forms of piety current in the Eleventh
Century than would his counterpart of the Eleventh Century in the forms of the
Twelfth, that is, in the West. There was such a change already in this one
century, the eleventh century, the century of the Schism and the twelfth, the
height of the Middle Ages. The great break occurred in the transition period
from the one to the other century. This change took place only in the West,
whereas sometime between the end of the Eleventh and the end of the Twelfth
Century, everything was somehow transformed. This profound alteration of view
did not take place in the East where, in some respects, Christian matters are still
today what they were then -- and what they were in the West before the end of
the Eleventh Century.
And here he thinks we have come to the very core of our subject. In the
period between the end of the Eleventh Century and the end of the Twelfth, a
decisive turning point was reached in the West. It was a time characterized by
several transitions. There was first, the transition from a predominantly essential
and exemplarist outlook to a naturalistic one, an interest in existence. This is a
transition from a universe of exemplary causality, in which the expressions of
thought or of act receive their truth from the transcendent model which material
things imitate, to a universe of efficient causality in which the mind seeks for the
truth in things and in their empirical formulations. Secondly, there was the
transition >from symbol to dialectic, or, as one might say with a greater
precision, from a synthetic perception to an inclination for analysis and
>questions. Here we have the beginning of Scholasticism.... The difference
between the two worlds is the difference between the attitude of synthetic
perception in quest of the relation of the parts to the whole, and an analytical
attitude, that is, which takes things apart and analyses them. Basically, he
says, was it not against this analytical attitude of Catholics that the Slavophile
religious philosophy aimed its criticism of Catholicism in the Nineteenth
Century? And here he means precisely Khomiakov and Kireyevsky.
Another transition was that from a culture where tradition reigned and
the habit of synthesis became ingrained, to an academic milieu where continual
questioning and research was the norm, and analysis the normal result of study.
The East followed the road of tradition, and we have shown how one of the
principle differences among the various peoples of the Orthodox faith is in fact
that they are not trained, as are the Latins, by the schools. The Latin
theologians, inured to Scholasticism, have often been baffled at seeing the
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Greeks refuse to yield to their compelling arguments from reason, but instead
taking refuge in the realm of Patristic texts and conciliar canons,... which was
the way all Christians reasoned before the Schism. But this remained foreign to
the East which knew no Scholasticism of its own and was to experience neither
the Reformation or the 16th-18th-century rationalism. In other words, the East
remained foreign to the three influences that shaped modern Catholicism. And
thats scholasticism, reformation and rationalism.
In the first half of the Thirteenth Century, a new kind of theological
teaching and study appeared and established itself in the West. Until this time,
the dominant type of teaching or study had been of a contemplative or monastic
nature, linked with the liturgical life of the abbeys or cathedrals. Now, there was
added a new type of teaching and study, of an academic and rational nature
which was soon to take the place of the former.... In the East, on the other hand,
the teaching and studying of theology, and even of philosophy, kept its religious
status.
Now we will now try to examine now some examples of what he means.
He speaks about a new spirit: a new spirit of interest in the world, of wanting to
analyze, a whole new technique of study, dependence upon human reason, which
the East never had. So we will examine now first of all the question of
Scholasticism.
Scholasticism
And poor Thomas Aquinas has been so much beaten by us Orthodox that
we should really read him to see what he has to say in particular, because just
reading a little bit of him reveals quite clearly the underlying world-view he has,
what kind of questions he asks, how he answers them, and the way he reasons.
He, of course, has a tremendous big book, of which I think the whole thing now
is in English, in twenty volumes or something: the Summa Theologica, in which
everything is supposed to be put: about God, about man, about the devil, the
world, the end of the world, the beginning of the world, everything about which
man has to know. And he has it all divided up into different questions, in
categories.
And here is an example of how he reasons. For example, he asks the
question: Whether the devil is directly the cause of mans sinning? We know
that the devil acts on us and a man goes into sin, and hes asking all kinds of
questions about how this happens. And therefore he asks the specific question
whether the devil is directly the cause of mans sinning. Of course, an Orthodox
writer would say, of course, we have to fight; the devil tries to tempt us, but we
cant be tempted against our power. We have many texts which can show that:
Holy Fathers, the Scriptures and so forth. We know we are going to have now a
systematic approach to this question.
First of all, in the Scholastic method you have to have objections, just like
in canonizing saints, you have to have a devils advocate, who gets all the dirty,
the news he can get about the saint, makes up things and tries to overwhelm the
evidence. And that way supposedly by having both the positive and negative,
youll be objective and come finally to the truth.
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So we have Objection One. It would seem that the devil is directly the
cause of mans sinning. We have this objection because thats exactly the
opposite of the answer he wants to give. For sin consists directly in an act of the
appetite, but Augustine says that the devil inspires his friends with evil desires;
and Bede, commenting on that, says that the devil draws the mind to evil desires.
And Isidore says that the devil fills mens hearts with secret lusts. Therefore, the
devil is directly the cause of sin.
Of course, this evidence can get thrown out because hes quoting these
people who said it didnt even intend to mean what this objector wants to say. So
already you see that you have to twist yourself and make a one-sided reasoning.
And he allows it; he puts that in there as an argument, in order to refute it.
Then we have another objection: Objection Two: Further Jerome says
that as God is the Perfecter of good, so is the devil the perfecter of evil. But God
is directly the cause of our good; therefore the devil is directly the cause of our
sins. Its very logical: you have God on one hand; but, of course, we do good
of our own besides having the help of God. So this is ridiculous.
But well go on to a third objection: Further, the philosopher says,
philosopher is the great authority, Aristotle, in a chapter of The Ethics: >There
must needs be some extrinsic principle of human counsel. Now human counsel is
not only about good things, but also about evil things. Therefore, as God moves
man to take good counsel and so directly is the cause of good, so the devil moves
him to take evil counsel and consequently is directly the cause of sin.
And now he is going to sweep everything aside and show what the truth
is. So he says, On the contrary, Augustine proves that nothing else than his own
will makes mans mind a slave of his desire. Now man does not become a slave
to his desire except through sin; therefore, the cause of sin cannot be the devil,
but mans own will alone.
And then he gives his answer: I answer that sin is an action and so a thing
can be directly the cause of sin in the same way that anyone is directly the cause
of an action, and this can happen only by moving that actions proper principle to
act. Now the proper principle of a sinful action is the will, since every sin is
voluntary. Consequently, nothing can be directly the cause of sin except that
which can move the will to act.
All this is not, theres no sort of Holy Father; this is his logical proving to
you on ABC, syllogistic reasoning. Now the will, as we have stated above, can
be moved by two things: first, by its object in as much as the apprehended
appetible is said to move the appetite; second, by that agent which moves the will
inwardly to will, and this is not other than either the will itself or God, as weve
shown above. Now God cannot be the cause of sin as was stated above.
Therefore, it follows that in this respect, a mans will alone is directly the cause
of his sin, and so forth.
He goes on and then answers objections, all showing that hes tried to split
apart this question which is a very simple one about how sin acts in us. And the
Holy Fathers will give you not, they wont chop it up like that; they will tell you
in general the question of how a man sins, and you will not have to divide it up
16

like that because its a whole question; its a very existential question. We have
to know about how sin acts, and whether, how the devil works on us. But when
you chop it up, then you sit back very content that youve reasoned things
through: and its quite different from the Orthodox Patristic approach. Youve
already asked questions which begin to split hairs quite a bit.
For example, theres a question: Whether if Eve, and not Adam, had
sinned, their children would have contracted original sin? You know, if Eve had
sinned and then Adam had not followed her, would we have fallen? Would we
have original sin? Would man be immortal? Its very sort of, well, a abstract
question which who would ever think about? And we have the objection: It
would seem that if Eve and not Adam had sinned, then children would have
contracted original sin anyway. For we contract original sin from our parents, in
so far as we were once in them according to the word of the Apostle when he
says, >in whom all have sinned. Now a man pre-exists in his mother as well as
in his father, therefore a man would have contracted original sin from his
mothers sin as well as from his fathers.
Again, second objection, If Eve and not Adam had sinned, their children
would have been born liable to suffering and death, since it is the mother that
provides the matter in generation as the Philosopher states, Aristotle. And death
and liability to suffering are the necessary results of matter. Now liability to
suffering and the necessity of dying are punishments of original sin. Therefore, if
Eve and not Adam had sinned, their children would contract original sin.
Objection Three: Further, Damascene, St. John Damascene, says that
the Holy Spirit came upon the Virgin, of whom Christ was to be born without
original sin, purifying her. But this purification would not have been necessary if
the infection of original sin were not contracted from the mother. Therefore, the
infection of original sin was contracted from the mother, so that if Eve had
sinned, her children would have contracted original sin even if Adam had not
sinned.
Thomas Aquinas is going to teach the contrary, so he says, On the
contrary, the Apostle says, >By one man sin entered into this world. Now if
woman would have transmitted original sin to her children, he would have said
that it entered by two, since both of them sinned, or rather that it entered by a
woman, since she sinned first. Therefore, original sin is transmitted to the
children not by the mother, but by the father. I answer that the solution of this
question is made clear by what has been said, for it has been stated that original
sin is transmitted by the first parent insofar as he is the mover in the begetting of
his children, and so it has been said that if anyone were begotten only materially
of human flesh, they would not contract original sin. Now, it is evident that in the
opinion of philosophers, the active principle of generation is from the father,
while the mother provides the matter. Therefore, original sin is contracted not
from the mother but from the father, so that if Eve and not Adam had sinned,
their children would not contract original sin. Whereas, if Adam and not Eve had
sinned, they would contract it.
And then he answers the objections in a question which is obviously
17

beyond our say, because God made it that way, thats the way it is; it is not for us
to speculate on these questions which are not for our salvation, which only show
that you have time to sit in your university chairs and discuss idle questions. Its
a totally useless question, and he solves it and thinks he has the answer. In the
way he reasons you can see that obviously this is very, very different from the
spirit of Holy Fathers who do not go from one logical chain of reasoning. Its all
logic, and he comes sometimes to ridiculous conclusions simply by following
logic.
So we can see that here -- and hes the pinnacle of Scholasticism -- this is a
systematization of Christian teaching, and actually subordinates Christian
teaching to logic. But logic itself, of course, depends on the starting point. And
they thought they were starting with basic Christian revelation. Well see soon
that there are all kinds of other things entering in, which affect reason. In this
Scholastic system logicalness becomes the first test of truth, and the living source
of faith is placed in a secondary place. And thats why later people hated it so
much because they felt it to be a completely dead framework in which theres no
life left, idly discussing questions which no one is concerned about, and when
you do discuss true questions, you flatten them out and deaden them. And a
Western man, under this influence, begins to lose his living relation to the Truth.
And thus Christianity is reduced to a system, to the human level. And this is one
of the chief roots of the later errors in the West, which can actually be summed
up as the attempt to make by human efforts something better than Christianity.
Dostoyevsky has a little story about this in the legend of the Grand
Inquisitor, Brothers Karamazov, in which he very acutely describes what the
Popes did, that is, the whole Western Church making something better than
Orthodoxy, by their own powers.
You can see this, for example, in the celebrated Proof of the Existence of
God in Anselm, who invented the new proof of the existence of God, which, as
you can see, is extremely clever and doesnt prove a thing. He says, What is
God? God must be that than which nothing greater can be conceived. And even
an atheist will say, Well, if there is a God, yes, He must be that greater than
which nothing exists or can be conceived, because theres nothing greater than
God, according to those who believe in Him. So, aha! you take the first point.
Secondly, existence is certainly a positive characteristic and something
which must be possessed by something which is greater than anything else that
can be conceived, isnt it? And you think, well, of course, if a thing is really
greater than anything else, it must have existence because that is a positive thing,
and something which is non-existent will not be greater than something which is
existent. Then he says, therefore , since that than which nothing greater can be
conceived must have as one of these characteristics which make it greater than
anything which can be conceived, existence. Therefore, it must exist. So God
exists.
And as you see, you are being fooled by this man. If you already believe,
you can say, aha! thats very nice. You can prove it by the laws of the mind. But
if you dont believe in it, you feel youve been fooled by this so-called proof
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because youre not willing to concede in the first place that this thing is anything
more than an imagination; and we see in this already the seeds of the later
subjectivism in the West.
This is really the very same thing that Descartes tried to do when he tried
to prove his own existence by saying, I think, therefore I am; and is also
something which later on Metoxis Makrakis was to do when he said that he was
the first man in the history of Orthodoxy to prove the existence of the Trinity, as
though before this time all the Fathers had been wasting their time, and he was
the first one to have enough intelligence and understanding of philosophy to
prove what the Holy Fathers couldntt prove.
Makrakis has exactly that same mentality of, By my own efforts, I will
give you simple people who believed in sort of whatever you were told, I will
give you the real explanation of things. And this is exactly what people like
Anselm are trying to do. This is again the spirit of trying to improve on
Christianity, trying to accept not as Holy Fathers accepted in simple faith, but
proving by means of -- actually hes under the influence of all these new currents
coming in, and especially of course Aristotle who was very influential in those
times, because he seemed to have sort of the universal philosophy -- except
Christianity; his view of nature was considered to be absolutely the truth.
So, this is the first point: Scholasticism, human reason, becomes the
measure instead of Tradition, and that is exactly where Rome went off. But this
is only part of the whole picture of what happened in the Middle Ages.
Romance
Something else happened. And that is that Orthodox tradition is not only
rationalized, it also becomes mixed with romance. The element of pagan legends
entering into Orthodox Lives of Saints in this time made it so that there are some
Lives of Saints which we have in our Orthodox sources, if you read the same Life
of a Saint in a medieval Latin source, you will be completely astonished. Well
take one example, the life of St. Christopher, which is known -- not too much is
known actually about him, but his Life is known: he was a soldier and he was
martyred, put to tortures. And there are a number of miracles in the Life; he has a
staff that sproutsCthis was in the tradition of Orthodox Lives of Saints.
But there is a book written in the thirteenth century, the very thing which
exists in English, The Golden Legend, which is a synthesis or a compilation of
lives of saints, like we have daily readings of Dimitry of Rostov, Lives of Saints
which is the same thing. Every day there is Life of a Saint. The Golden Legend
makes something into being fairy tales or something, not just accounts of
something. In the thirteenth century, the height of Middle Ages, before the
Renaissance or anything, (when Joachim was doing all the changing?) and here
he gives the life of St. Christopher, which is such a one that you wont know
what hes talking about.
So it seems that according to this life, St. Christopher was some kind of
barbarian who decided he wanted to go in search of the most powerful king in the
world in order to serve him. And he finds some kind of powerful king, whos big,
as always happens, and he serves him and is very happy because he can then be
19

manful and valiant and fight for him. And then there comes a minstrel to this
court, youve probably seen these people going around, troubadours and so forth,
and a minstrel comes to his court and begins to sing. And he sings about the
devil, he mentions the devil, and every time he mentions the devil, the king
makes the sign of the Cross; he seems to be some Christian. And St. Christopher
is astonished. Why did you make the sign of the Cross? And he asked him,
Why did you make the sign of the Cross whenever he mentioned the devil?
Because Im a Christian, Im afraid of the devil.
Afraid of the devil! That means the devil must be a more powerful king
than you are: Im going to go and serve the devil. So he goes off in search of the
devil to serve the devil because he's a more powerful king. And he finally finds
somebody on the road who says, Who are you?
Im the devil.
Good, I want to serve you. Youre the most powerful king in the world.
So he undertakes the service of the devil, and he goes with him on his adventures
to various places. And they come to a cross, and the devil all of a sudden falls
back, hesitates and runs away. And Christopher says, Why did you run away? I
thought you were the most powerful king in the world.
No, I cannot stand the Cross.
Why not?
I wont tell you.
He said, No, if you dont tell me I'll go and search for some other
powerful king, because youre not so powerful. And he explained that there
was someone who died on the Cross, Whom hes afraid of, and his name is
Christ.
So he says, Aha, that means theres a more powerful king yet. I will go
and serve Christ. And so he goes off in search of Christ. He comes to some kind
of holy man, a monk or something. And he says, Where can I find Christ? he
says. Well, he tells him about Christ. He says, Oh, I want to serve him. How do
I serve him?
Well, start fasting.
He says, Oh, I cant fast.
Cant fast? Well, then, start praying.
Oh, I cant pray.
Well, you cant pray. Well, in that case, go to a certain river and build a
hut and sit in the river and wait for people to come and take them across the
river, and that way you will serve Christ. So he goes to the river, and builds his
place and sits in there, and one night, stormy night he hears a small voice,
Christopher, Christopher! Three times he goes out and sees no one, and the
third time he goes out and sees a small child, very small child standing on the
shore and saying, Christopher, take me across the river. So he puts him on his
shoulders, goes across the river, and meanwhile the river rises up higher and
higher and higher, and the child becomes heavier and heaver and heavier. He
finally tells the child, I feel as though I am carrying the whole world on my
shoulders.
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And he says, Youre carrying not only the whole world, youre carrying
the Creator of the world. And so then he goes off and is martyred and so forth.
And you can see obviously this is absolute fairy tale introduced into a life
of a saint, for whatever reasons we dont know, maybe theres pagan influences,
the result of very good imagination. Well, anyway, this element of romance enters
into even such a thing as the Life of a Saint, becomes a total made-up fairy tale.
And thats why you see Catholic and even some Orthodox people paint icons of
St. Christopher with the Christ Child on his shoulder, because the word
Christophoros means Christbearer, therefore they make a literal kind of
interpretation and make up a story to suit it.
And many other cases we see that in the Roman Catholic sources even
from the height of the Middle Ages in the thirteenth century, there are very many
of these romantic elements enter in. We cannot trust those sources. And this was
the reason that later scholars came to distrust the sources. Also, there, of course,
are such things as the legends of the Grail, which come up from Celtic legends,
pagan legends, The Golden Legend....
New Concept of Sanctity
So weve seen in the Middle Ages the rationalism, logicalness, replacing
faith or taking over and shaping now faith, becoming the criteria, romantic
elements entering in. And now we come to a very important one which is maybe
even more important than Scholasticism, because in the end this will do more to
bring about Antichrist than Scholasticism. This is the concept of sanctity which
becomes now different from the Orthodox concept of sanctity. And the best
example of this is the life of Francis of Assisi.
The fact that this man became so popular, in fact, tremendously popular
wherever he went, people went around, acted like Christ Himself coming to
them; and they sang and accompanied him. He aroused great enthusiasm, which
shows that he was very much in the spirit of his times. But if we look at his life,
we see that it is so strange from the Orthodox point of view; and we can say that
its not at all an Orthodox Life of a Saint.
For one thing, he founded a new manner of life. He invented the rule of
poverty because in church one day the Gospel was being preached about poverty,
about the Apostles not taking anything with them when they preached, although
later on, of course, the Apostles did take with them money and so forth. The first
time they went out they went by twos to the cities preaching to the Jews and
took nothing with them. And he heard this in church and became inspired to
invent a new rule, a new way of life, a rule of poverty based on the Gospel, as
though there was no monastic tradition before him, which there was. And there
were many great Saints at this time.
Of course, he could look around, perhaps the monasteries were corrupt and
so forth, and he wanted something different. But theres something already
suspicious to think hes going to do something new, a whole new rule of life,
based not on Holy Fathers. And if he didnt like the recent Latin Fathers, he
could have gone back to St. John Cassian, the Egyptian Fathers and so forth, but
he didnt. He went instead to the Gospel, like the Protestants. He went and
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invented himself a rule of poverty. Nothing special, of course -- monks are poor-but he made something special out of it, just as later well see that the Catholics
are making something special about the Mother of God as though shes some
kind of unearthly being and so forth.
And he gave it and himself and his followers new names.
They were not now to be called just monks, they were the Penitents of
Assisi, or the Lords Minstrels, they called themselves, going about singing.
So already we see that they think theyre not like previous monks and ascetics,
but something new, a new spirit which is very much in accord with the spirit of
the times.
There was a time, on Christmas in the year 1223, he decided to celebrate
the Nativity in a new manner. And so he reproduced in the church were he was
in Italy the stable of Bethlehem. And thus began the so-called devotion to the
crib in the Latin Church and around this he had some kind of a play which is
beginning of the mystery plays in Italy -- and helping thus the rise of the drama.
And the drama of course is something which, although it arose from this very
same thing, were not going to talk about that. The mystery play, which comes
from the Liturgy actually, was centered around the Mass and religious themes,
and are an adaptation to the new spirit of the times to make religion more
interesting, more in accordance with everyday life, more close to the believers,
as though Orthodoxy is not enough.
Another aspect of his so-called sanctity. One historian of him says,
His very asceticism was often clothed in the guise of romance. So he woos
the Lady Poverty, thinks about her as though shes a real person, and keeps
wooing her, as the bridegroom, and of course about Sister Death and all of
these personifications.
And a very typical example of something new which is not at all Orthodox
is what happened once when he was sick. He ate meat. And an Orthodox person
who isnt a monk maybe might eat meat during sickness or something. If he did
he would feel repentant about it, ask Gods forgiveness, and feel that Im no
good anyway, and ask that if He would, God forgive him. But not Francis of
Assisi. Instead, he went out to preach to the people. There was a large crowd,
thousands of people as usual, and he said, Stop. Everyone stay here until I come
back. And he went to the church nearby, and he forced two of his disciples to do
whatever he told them out of obedience. One of them poured over his head ashes,
a bucket full of ashes; the second put a rope around his neck and led him out
before the people who were all waiting to see whats going to happen. And here
comes Francis of Assisi led by a rope with ashes on his black head, and he looks
at them and says, You consider me a saint, but I ate meat when I was sick.
By this, hes making a public display that I am really supposed to be very
holy, and if I made a mistake I got to make up for it so theyll still think Im
holy. So we see that hes already playing the role of a holy man who must
appear before the people as pure, whereas a genuine holy man would repent, and
its all the better if people think hes bad or evil.
Fr. H: Well, heres a good example: the general fools for Christs sake, they
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do exactly the opposite. They act crazy in order to be put down....


Fr. S: And of course the people who are already having new ideas about
sanctity say, Oh, how humble this man is! And actually there is fake humility;
this is not humility. And in fact the key to his sanctity is pride. He is conscious of
himself as being a holy man. He said, I do not see in myself any sin which I
have not expiated by confession and repentance. For the Lord in His mercy has
presented me the gift of clearly recognizing at prayer that in which I have been
pleasing to Him and that in which I have not been pleasing, that is, spiritual selfsatisfaction. Im holy; Ive sinned but Ive made up for them by a certain
number of penances, and making myself, dragging myself before the people, and
now I know that I am pure.
And we can contrast this with any number of Lives of Orthodox Saints,
for example, St. Sisoes, who was preparing to die and then lived for a short
time longer because, when his disciples asked him, Why are you coming
back? he said, An
angel told me I was not ready; I must repent even more. Hes supposed to
have lived a holy life, and he said, I have tried all my life to please God, and
now at the end I do not know whether I have pleased Him or not. And Francis
knows that he pleased God. This is the spirit already of the Pharisee.
At his death-bed Francis says, Behold, God calls me, and I forgive all my
brothers both present and absent their offenses and errors, and I remit their sins in
so far as this is in my power. He was not a priest, so even in that indirect sense,
he had no power; that is, he had some kind of recognizing in himself the power of
sanctity by which he can remit the sins of people, which is totally un-Orthodox.
And his last words were, I have done what I had to do. I return to God. May He
have mercy on you. That is, Im perfect; Ive done it, Im finished, Im
perfectly justified.
Again, typical of this kind of sanctity is an incident in his life when Christ
supposedly appeared to him at prayer and offered him whatever favor he might
desire. Already this is romance and all fairy tales -- three wishes and so forth. But
this kind of familiarity of a saint with God is typical of prelest, spiritual
deception. And Francis asked, since he was very much burdened with his love for
men, that a plenary indulgence be granted to all who confess and visit his chapel,
at the center of his Order. And Christ agreed, but said the Pope must ratify it. The
Pope did this. And from that day to this on August Second you can get a plenary
indulgence by going to his chapel, receiving confession, which means that you
will not have to suffer the temporary or temporal consequences for your sins. A
whole new system of indulgences of course is exact already in this thirteenth
century; its already there.
Fr. H: In Metropolia magazine for children, they have a life of St. Francis,
Metropolia magazine for children, called Young Life. And Orthodox children
receiving this together with St. Seraphim and something else. Can we unite with
them?
Fr. S: But theres one thing more, which is the most striking characteristic
of this so-called sanctity; in fact, the most striking characteristic of his
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deception, that is, he imitated Christ in an outward manner. When he had his first,
I believe, seven disciples or perhaps twelve -- probably twelve and starts with
seven. He took them together, and he sent them by two-and-two to go preach the
Gospel: one, two, he went himself to France, supposedly to France, two to
someplace else, England, Italy, and so forth. And he used the very words of the
Gospel: I am sending you by two-and-two to go and preach the forgiveness of
sins. First of all he sent them to Christian countries and only later he sent to nonChristian countries, as if he is teaching a new Gospel, as if this had not already
been done, as if he is a new christ, sending out his own people who are preaching
his gospel; because these countries already have their bishops or their priests, the
whole system, and hes sending them into these same countries which already
have their Christian government to preach his gospel. Indeed they go and they
found the Franciscan Order.
Again, just before he died, he had bread brought to him. He blessed the
bread, he had it broken, and it was given to his disciples, and the life of St.
Francis says he remembered the sacred meal which the Lord celebrated with His
disciples for the last time; consciously giving them a last supper.
Again, there is a very interesting thing which happened to him when he
received the stigmata, which is the marks of the wounds of Christ, five marks in
the hands, in the side, the feet. Before receiving this, which in the Catholic
Church is accepted as a real sign of a saint, he prayed that he might suffer what
Christ suffered in soul and body and, quote, that I might as much as possible
feel with all my being that limitless love with which Thou didst burn, O Son of
God, and which caused Thee to endure so many torments for us sinners.
This is a brazenness which is unheard of in true Saints: that they want to
have Gods love itself, and they want to suffer what He suffered feeling the
flesh. This is not spiritual striving. This is a search for bodily sensations and the
great pride he felt at wishing to feel the very feelings of God. And you can
contrast this with any -- Christ does appear to saints. He appeared to St.
Seraphim as he was serving as a deacon in church, and St. Seraphim did not
pray, manifest yourself to me, or make me feel what You felt. He was
praying in church; Christ appeared to him. And he did not even want to speak
about it.
And then when he [Francis] received the stigmata there was a vision of a
seraphim with Christ crucified superimposed on it, which came to him and which
well show you in one of their icons of this, shoots out rays, sun rays and gives
him the stigmata. And at this time, according to his Life, Francis felt himself
totally transformed into Jesus, which is blasphemy. That is the root of the whole
of Catholic spirituality: this sweetness that Jesus is approaching, I am all one
with Him and Hes with me-- all this is prelest.
And later, sure enough, his disciples call him the new Christ. In one life,
it even says, which Ignatius Brianchaninov likes to quote, that when Francis died
and was lifted to heaven, God beholding him did not know who was greater,
Francis or His own Son.
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This kind of sanctity, spirituality is already much worse than the


rationalism of Scholasticism, because this means that -- you can have rationalists
teaching in your seminaries and still be a holy person, still cling to the source of
the spirituality -- but when the standard of spirituality itself becomes this
deceived, presumptuous thing full of pride, then the root is complete closed off.
And so it is, obviously, that this kind of spirituality -- and this is already 1200,
the end of the eleventh, into the twelfth, even the thirteenth century, a hundred
years after the Schism, 150 years later -- the concept of spirituality is so different
from the East, [that there is] no more contact possible. This is what we call a
deceived person. This would be a classical example of a person who is living in
prelest.
Well, its obvious that this was simply bound up with his, he had a very
apparently strong power of imagination. And this we dont even know the laws
of all these kinds of things, but its on the side of the corrupt properties. Its
maybe not black magic itself, but its very bound up with all that darker realm of
the psychic, in which tombs can appear and all kinds of things.
But theres worse to come. The followers of Francis are very interesting
because in them there comes out the logical conclusions of this new kind of
spirituality, this new kind of sanctity. They see that theres some kind of new,
even calls him a new Christ, some kind of a new spirit enters into the world,
new spirituality. And so, it is to one of his disciples, Joachim of Flores, that there
appears this, actually for the first time, the concept of the Coming of the Third
Age of the Holy Spirit which is the foundation of all modern philosophies of
progress, chiliasm and the New Age. He himself obtained this revelation about
this -- it was not by thinking it through -- it was in a vision. This very interesting
book on Meaning in History gives a philosophy of history, of various people
from the Middle Ages to modern times. And he says the following about this:
It was a decisive moment in the history of the Christian church when an
Italian abbot, a renowned prophet and saint and man trained in the most austere
discipline of the Cisterican Order, after arduous study and meditations in the
wilderness of his Calabrian mountains received an inspiration at Pentecost
(between 1190 and 1195). Actually he wasnt a true disciple of Francis; he was
at the same time, revealing to him the signs of the times in the light of St.
Johns Revelation. He says, When I awoke at dawn, I took to the Revelation of
St. John. There, suddenly, the eyes of my spirit were struck with the lucidity of
insight, and it was revealed to me the fulfillment of this book and the
concordance of the Old and New Testaments. And he therefore has a whole new
interpretation of what is the meaning of the Old and New Testaments.
The general scheme of Joachims discriminating interpretation is based on
the Trinitarian doctrine. Three different dispensations come to pass in three
different epochs in which the three persons of the Trinity are successively
manifested. The first is the dispensation of the Father, the second that of the Son,
the third that of the Holy Spirit. [The latter is just beginning now, i.e., toward the
end of the twelfth century] and is progressing toward complete >freedom of the
>spirit. The Jews were slaves under the law of the Father. That is the Old
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Testament. The Christians of the second epoch were, though incompletely,


spiritual and free, namely, in comparison with the moral legality of the first
dispensation. In the third epoch, St. Pauls prophetic words will come true, that
we know and prophesy now only in part, >but when that which is perfect is
come, that which is in part shall be done away.(I Cor. 13:9-10)
And he says, Joachim, >Already we can apprehend the unveiling of the
final liberation of the spirit in its plentitude. The first epoch was inaugurated by
Adam in fear and under the sign of the law; since Abraham, it has borne fruit to
become fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The second [was inaugurated by Uzziah in faith
and humility under the sign of the gospel;] since Zechariah, the father of John the
Baptist, it had borne fruit to become fulfilled in future times. The third was
inaugurated by St. Benedict -- because he was very monastically oriented -- in
love and joy under the sign of the Spirit; it will come to pass with the
reappearance of Elijah at the end of the world.... The ages overlap.
Joachim of Floris
b. 3 Ages: the foundation of all modern philosophies of progress and
new age, chiliasm. Lowith pp.148-9-50.
[Lowith, p. 148-50] The first dispensation is historically an order of the
married, Old Testament, dependent on the Father; the second an order of
clerics dependent on the Son; the third an order of monks dependent upon the
Spirit of Truth. The first age is ruled by labor and work, the second by learning
and discipline, the third by contemplation and praise.... The times which have
passed before the law, and under grace were as necessary as the coming epoch
which will fulfill those preparatory stages; for the fundamental law of the history
of salvation is the continuous progress from the time of the Old and New
Testament >letter to that of the >spirit, in analogy to the miraculous
transformation of water into wine.
Thus the coming times of the Holy Spirit are successively prefigured in
the first and second epochs of the Father and Son, which are strictly concordant,
for each figure and event of the Old Testament, if understood spiritually, is a
promise and signification of a corresponding figure and event of the New
Testament. This correspondence is one of meaning as well as of succession, i.e.,
certain events and figures of the Old Testament are spiritually contemporary with
certain events and figures of the New Testament by having a concordant
historical position and significance. Thus, for example, Johns baptism by water
reappears intensified in Elijahs baptism by the fire of the Holy Spirit, which
swallows everything carnal and merely of the letter. This whole process of a
progressive consummatio is, at the same time, a continuous process of designatio,
invalidating the preceding promises and significations. The periods of each
dispensation have to be reckoned, however, not by homogenous years but by
generations which are concordant not by their length but by their numbers, each
of them extending about thirty years. The number 30 has no natural, but a
spiritual foundation. It refers to the perfection of the Trinity of the one Godhead
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and to Jesus who was thirty years of age when he gained his first filii spirituales.
According to Joachims calculations, (chiefly based on Rev. 11:3 and 12:6; Matt.
1:17) his own generation is the fortieth, and the assumption of his followers was
that, after a period of two further generations, that is, in 1260, the climax would
be reached, revealing Frederick II as the Antichrist and the Franciscan Spirituals
as the providential leaders of the new and last dispensation, which would end
with historys definite consummation by last judgment and resurrection. Within
historical time, the goal and meaning of the history of salvation is the
uncompromising realization of the evangelical precepts and exhortations, in
particular the Sermon on the Mount.
What is new and revolutionary in Joachims conception of the history of
salvation is due to his prophetic-historical method of allegorical interpretation. In
so far as it is allegorical and typological, it is not new but only a coherent
application of the traditional patristic exegesis. But this exegesis served
Joachims amazingly fertile imagination not for static -- i.e., moral and dogmatic
-- purposes but for a dynamic understanding of revelation through an essential
correlation between Scripture and history and between their respective
interpretations. The one must explain the other if history, on the one hand, is
really sacred and full of religious meaning and if, on the other hand, the gospel is
the rotulus in rota or the central axis of the worlds happenings. Granted that
history is a history of salvation and that the history of the church is its pattern,
then the only fitting key to its religious understanding must be the Sacred
Scriptures, the concordance of which proves to Joachim not an absolute doctrine
but the meaningful structure of a historical process. On the basis of the simple
belief in the inspired character of the Scripture, Joachim could extract from it a
strictly religious understanding of history and, on the one hand, discover in actual
history the hidden presence of purely religious categories. This attempt to explain
history religiously and the Revelation of St. John historically is no more and no
less than an intricate elaboration of the Christian presupposition that the church is
the body of Christ and that therefore her history is intrinsically religious and not
merely a department of the history of the world. And, since the history after
Christ is still on its way and yet revealed as having an end, the fullness of time is
not to be conceived traditionally as a unique event of the past but as something to
be worked out in future, in the perspective of which the church, from Christ until
now, is not an everlasting foundation but an imperfect prefiguration. The
interpretation of history thus necessarily becomes prophecy, and the right
understanding of the past depends on the proper perspective for the future, in
which the preceding significations come to their end. This consummation does
not occur beyond historical time, at the end of the world, but in a last historical
epoch. Joachims eschatological scheme consists neither in a simple millennium
nor in the mere expectation of the end of the world but in a twofold eschaton: an
ultimate historical phase of the history of salvation, preceding the transcendent
eschaton of the new aeon, ushered in by the second coming of Christ. The
Kingdom of the Spirit is the last revelation of Gods purpose on earth and in time.
Consequently, the institution of the papacy and clerical hierarchy is limited to the
27

second epoch. This implies a radical revision of the Catholic doctrine of


succession from St. Peter to the end of the world. The existing church, though
founded on Christ, will have to yield to the coming church of the Spirit, when the
history of salvation has reached its plenitude. This ultimate transition also implies
the liquidation of preaching and sacraments, the mediating power of which
becomes obsolete when the spiritual order is realized which possesses knowledge
of God by direct vision and contemplation. The real signification of the
sacraments is not, as with Augustine, the signification of a transcendent reality
but the indication of a potentiality which becomes realized within the framework
of history.
3rd age is the last ([Lowith] p. 151) = chiliasm.
[Lowith, p. 151] Belonging himself to the second epoch, Joachim did not
draw any revolutionary conclusions from the implications of his historicoeschatological visions. He did not criticize the contemporary church, nor did his
interpretation of the angel of the Apocalypse (Rev. 7:2) and the novus dux [new
leader], entitled to >renovate the Christian religion, mean that he intended a
revolutionary reorganization of the existing institutions and sacraments. To him
it only meant that a messianic leader was to appear, >whosoever it will be,
bringing about a spiritual renovation for the sake of the Kingdom of Christ,
revealing but not abolishing what hitherto has been veiled in significant figures
and sacraments. The revolutionary conclusions were drawn later by men of the
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, by the Franciscan Spirituals, who recognized
in Joachim the new John the Baptist, heralding St. Francis at the novus dux of
the last dispensation, even as the >new Christ. To them the clerical church was
indeed at its end. Rejecting the alleviating distinction between strict precepts and
flexible counsels, they made a radical attempt to live a Christian life in
unconditional poverty and humility and to transform the church into a
community of the Holy Spirit, without pope, clerical hierarchy, sacraments, Holy
Scripture, and theology. The rule of St. Francis was to them the quintessence of
the gospel. The driving impulse of their movement was, as with Joachim, the
intensity of their eschatological expectancy with regard to the present epoch as a
state of corruption. The criterion by which they judged the corruption of their
times and the alienation from the gospel was the life of St. Francis. And, since
Joachim had already expected that within two generations the final battle would
be fought between the spiritual order and the powers of evil, his followers could
even more definitely interpret the emperor as the Antichrist -- eventually,
however, as the providential instrument for the punishment of an anti-Christian
church which obstructed its own renovation by persecuting the real followers of
Christ.
...people, these people are on the very high level, theyre really
crucifying themselves and struggling very hard. Francis didnt talk much
about that.
Then why is there this idea of a Third Age? It is obviously because with
the coming of Christ, there is something new in the world. That is, the whole of
world history is divided into two epochs, before Christ and after Christ; the
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preparation of Christ and the consummation. But once one loses the Christian
understanding of the spirit of Christ -- Christianity as the preparation for the
kingdom of heaven -- then this newness leaves one free to speculate.
We see that the Scholastics are reasoning, whatever their logic tells them
they come up with. And once you speculate on the idea of newness, you begin to
say, Why cant we have something new now? Because Christianity itself
becomes stale. Our monks have become corrupt. Thats what Francis was
rebelling against. He wanted to have himself a purer poverty. And therefore from
the very idea of Christianity, once the idea of Christian tradition is removed, you
logically have the idea of a new Christianity, some new flowering of wisdom,
spirituality, and actually a new revelation. This, again, is the Grand Inquisitor
of Dostoyevsky, the making of a new Christianity better than Christianity was.
And of course all that time released Protestantism and all the sects of
today. And the source for this is no longer the Orthodox tradition, which is lost;
the source is either reason or visions. At this time of course we have all these
new things arising in the Catholic Church, the new orders: Dominicans,
Franciscans, and all the rest, the very idea that this is the normal way. And so
these two, Francis and Joachim, will be very influential in later times. People
keep coming back to their ideas because they are in the seed period of the
modern age.
There are a few other points which are less important but still reveal a very
symptomatic outlook of the Middle Ages.
I forgot, about Joachim, he emphasized the fact that this Kingdom of the
Spirit is the last revelation, that is, this is the millennium, or chiliasm, the
chiliastic expectation. And he used even a phrase, the Church of the Spirit
which was coming.
Medieval Art
We can look at art and see something very interesting, because although
iconography, iconographic style never was completely developed in the West, in
Italy it was. There was iconographic tradition; and they had many churches in
Ravenna and so forth which are in iconographic style. But at this time whatever
they had in Italy began to be transformed.
We see already in one whos considered to be still very much in the
Byzantium tradition, supposed to have a little bit of tradition left -- theres a
painter called Duccio who lived at the very time of, no, a hundred years after
Francis, end of the thirteenth century. We can see from this painting that [illus.]
Christ looks very nice -- very serene and calm; its obviously Byzantium
influence. And already there the faces are beginning to be introducing a little bit
of human interest. They are very psychologically drawn nicely. But it was very
pleasing compared with later, you know, bloody crucifixions and so forth; its
very serene and calm, looks almost Byzantium. Thats Duccio who comes before
this great change. And theres another one of his, two more of his, Crucifixion
and a Mother of God with Child. And you see already, look at these faces in the
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angels, they are people, you look at angels, not cherubs, havent got decadent yet,
but theyre people who have very definite psychological characteristics, maybe
somebody posed for the painting. And you see all kinds of human interest. You
know. People are looking various, sad and looking around. And already the
model, the type of iconography is being lost. Theres something, kind of new
principle coming in.
But when you come to the next painter well talk about, the one who was
contemporary with, well, actually the same time, because he was preserving more
the older sort of style. But theres a painter whos most typical of this time called
Giotto, who was very closely bound up with Francis because he was
commissioned to paint his life in the basilica of Assisi. But in him, one historian
says: Painting was no longer an echo of tradition, but rose at once to the dignity
of invention.... Art no longer worked on conventional models, abstract and ideal;
its models were to be the realities of nature.... Representation of real life was to
become the object of all painting. And therefore its called an artistic revolution,
and its quite fitting that the new saint, new kind of saint has already a new kind
of icon, which is no longer an icon but a religious painting. False iconography;
false saint gives rise to a false iconography.
He adds many elements from everyday life. This is the beginning of this
thing which you see later in the Renaissance painting where all kinds of quaint
scenes from everyday life. You even see a Crucifixion of Christ in the heart of
Bologna or something like that; this is to show that were, combination of up-todateness and so forth. But you can see from these paintings of Giotto how far
away he is even from Duccio. Here is one called the Mourning of Christ; if
you look at the close-up especially you see that the faces are very...
Fr. H: Vicious.
Fr. S: Sort of vicious and very weird looking. Its still a religious painting,
recognizable, doesntt have all the (sils?) later on, but already looks very
strange, not at all iconographic style. And Francis receiving the stigmata, already
its (a sort of prelest?); heres the vision which he got directly from himself...
Fr. H: Its demonic.
Fr. S: Christ on the seraphim, this weird thing, its this demonic thing, its
an icon of Francis. And this is somewhat at the same time. You see already all
these different kinds of faces. Hes obviously trying to capture psychological...
Fr. H: Earthly, earthly.
Fr. S: ...earthly aspects of these people. Christ is a still recognizable
Christ, but its gets all the other people with these passions, these...
Fr. H: Thats not icons.
Student: Theres, theres still a remnant here because you notice the
three stars on the Mother of God, still a remnant hanging around.
Fr. S: But well show in a later lecture how, what happened in the
Renaissance when art completely went wild. You can see already here the
principal of why it, how it starts to lose. The picturesque quaint elements begin to
enter in, and the whole idea of an icon being the Saint as he is in heaven is lost.
Instead, its the Saint as he is on earth, an earthly figure. He even begins to throw
30

all kinds of earthly things in. And in Renaissance well see that even religious art
now becomes a vehicle for a different religion entirely.
Politics
And a final aspect is, we should touch on very briefly, is the political
sphere. The idea of a Byzantium empire was lost. What is the empire? The
empire is not some kind of mystical institution; it is rather that political
institution which providentially allowed the spreading of Christianity. And once
the empire was baptized, became Christian, the emperor was to protect religion
for his people and to give the first example of religious life, so that the
institutions became Christianized.
In this world, of course, there can never be any perfect Christianization of
society, and there was no sort of the romantic idea of making things, you know,
perfect society on earth; but, rather that there was an ideal, a heavenly ideal
which everything on earth was to imitate. But this ideal was totally lost in the
West; of course, there were the political imitations.
First of all, in the 800s there was the rival empire of Charlemagne that
was consciously set up as a rival. The Pope indeed chose Charlemagne over
Irene the Easterner who was for the icons, and Charlemagne was against the
icons, and also favored the Filioque. Already we see that this is very shaky. And
this empire gave rise to what was called the Holy Roman Empire in the West.
And Kireyevsky notes, We have a Holy Russia because there are holy
men in it, called because of holy men, but the holy Roman Empire was holy in
itself, because it was not holy men, holy emperors or holy men in it. It was called
>holy because the institution itself was conceived as being holy. And this is an
attempt, which will come out very strongly later, at sanctifying the world, in
which an earthly institution becomes conceived as something holy.
The Crusades at this time, were, although ostensibly undertaken to
drive out the infidels from the East, in their practical effect, the function of
them was to subdue the Byzantium Empire and make it in union with the
Pope.
But the deepest political idea of all in the Middle Ages was that of the
papacy. In fact, the universal monarchy of the Pope. As if from the period just
before the Schism somewhere in the eighth to tenth century, there is this false
document, The Donation of Constantine, at which Constantine supposedly
gave the temporal authority to the Pope. And as a result of this, the popes,
probably the document aroused, was made as a result of seeing that the Pope was
already becoming an political figure. But the result of it was that the Pope
himself becomes perceived as a temporal authority, and as a kind of emperor in
the West, because the empire in the West was always very weak. And in the chief
political authority is actually the Pope. And we even have the theories of
medieval thinkers that all the land in the world belongs to the Pope. He only
gives it to people, like in the feudal system. Actually theoretically he owns the
world, the land, not just the spiritual part.
The climax of this kind of a point of view is in the jubilee year of 1300.
Theyre having a jubilee year now [1975] also in Rome. In 1300 there was a
31

jubilee year with the Pope Bonifice VIII who seated himself on the throne of
Constantine, arrayed himself with sword, crown, and scepter, and shouted aloud,
I am Caesar. I am Emperor. This is not an accident, because this is an
indication of something extremely deep in the whole of modern thought, which is
the search for a universal monarch, which is Antichrist.
As a conclusion we can say that this spirit we looked at in the painting,
politics, theology, philosophy, and spirituality is a spirit of this world, of
deception, prelest; of the beginning of all those things which we find so strange
in the Western saints, the post-schism so-called saints. This idle fantasies,
sweetnesses, and all kind of sweet, you know, feelings, imaginations...
Fr. H: Earthly.
Fr. S: ...which belong to the earth, in which the religious imagination
embroiders upon earthly interests. And these make the separation between, or the
estrangement between East and West beginning already in the time of Photius
and Charlemagne, as we come now to the final separation. And we simply
cannot go back and unite with that church unless that church is going to
desperately clean itself up. And how can it clean itself up when these things
become very deep in their very mentality and the idea of what is a Saint?
At this dawn of modern history, the thirteenth century, all the seeds of
modern mentality are present. And modern history follows logically from these
seeds. Essentially, it is one thing -- the search for a new Christianity which is
better than Orthodoxy, better than the Christianity of the Holy Fathers, which
Christ gave to us.
Later on, this will take forms which go through atheism and all kinds of
wild beliefs, but essentially the search remains the same, and in the end the
world will be Christian, because its Antichrist who gives them a new religion,
which is not something foreign to Christianity. It will not be some kind of
paganism. It will be something which everyone will accept as Christianity, but
will be anti-christian. A substitute for Christianity which denies the very essence
of Christianity.
And that is why the main history of the rebellion against Christ is no less
than the apostasy which St. Paul talks about. It is not by means of persecution as
it was in the beginning, but by means of taking Christianity and changing it so
that it will no longer be Christian. And this is what we can call the unfolding of
the Mystery of Iniquity in preparation for Antichrist.
Later we will see some of these main, central themes of the whole of
modern history, some of which dont appear too evident in some epochs. One is
this striving for world monarchy, world ruler, bound up with the idea of papacy.
Another one is the idea of the sanctification of the world, divinization of the
world. Thats the idea of chiliasm, that this world achieves an importance which
is spiritual. Holy Roman Empire, Francis with his feeling of being divine.
And the third one and most obvious one is that man replaces God as the
criterion of truth. His feeling, his logic. Man replaces God as the criterion for
Truth. Later on we will see how, to what extreme limit this goes in the
Renaissance and later a whole religion of man; but already in these early ages,
32

man puts himself above tradition, above the divine. And Francis places himself
even right together with Christ; he becomes transformed into Christ.
All of this is the preparation for the next lecture which well define, well
examine what happened in the Renaissance and Reformation when, as opposed
to this thirteenth century, which is considered by the Catholic humanists of today
as the peak, really the height of Christianity in the West, and the Renaissance
and Reformation as getting away from that. We see the Renaissance and
Reformation as only proceeding logically the same apostasy which was started by
all this new spirituality of the thirteenth century.
Lecture 3
THE RENAISSANCE
The life of the saint which we just heard1, St. Paul of Obnora, gives us an
insight into a civilization which is exactly the opposite of the civilization we are
studying now -- the Western civilization since the Schism, since the Middle Ages.
In the traditional Orthodox civilizations such as that of Russia, very similar
events repeat themselves. That is, there are barbarian invasions, monasteries may
be laid waste, the monastic life at one time flourishes, at another time it grows
lax, and then again it flourishes. Saints rise up, the devil is constantly attacking;
there are invasions from outside. And all this happens without disturbing the
basic harmony and equilibrium of the civilization. The same thing is true of
Byzantium. The same thing is true in the West before the period of the Schism.
There is nothing that we could call new, because once Christianity had
been proclaimed, once Christ came and established His Church, there is nothing
more that can be new. This is the preparation for the end of the world, and
people who are penetrated by the principles of Orthodox tradition do not expect
anything new in this world.
In the West, on the other hand, beginning already, as we saw in the last
lecture, with the high Middle Ages, with Scholasticism, Francis of Assisi,
Joachim of Flores, the element of romance entering into religion, the new
political ideas--there is already the idea that something new is happening.
Christianity is being improved upon. Theres a search for some kind of new
Christianity even though they do not use that word yet. And this emphasis is
increased in the period we study now -- that of the Renaissance, the period after
the Middle Ages, roughly 1300-1600. We will find in this period that what began
in the Middle Ages is already now becoming an epidemic. And there are things
that happened which are totally new in the history of mankind; or, if they did
exist before, now attain some kind of completely new level.
The purpose of these lectures, to repeat, why we should be studying the
development of modern mentality, is so that we might understand why the world
is the way it is today, what has gone into forming our own minds; so that we can
be Orthodox by rising up against all false ideas, all false formation in our minds,
and seeing what is the true Orthodox mentality and the true Orthodox teaching.
Unfortunately, the end of this modern period which begins with the
Schism has produced a generation of people who are quite unaware of the past,
and therefore a person who does not know what is his past, very easily becomes
33

the victim of his environment which is based upon an anti-Christian philosophy.


He becomes this by everything which is in the life around him. And we are trying
to understand those things which are in the life around us from a deeper
philosophical point of view, so that even the music in the supermarket becomes
something philosophical. It has back of it an idea which is supposed to give us a
certain feeling which takes us away from Christ.
And so the purpose of this study is Orthodox self-defense. This whole
course is an examination of modern history from the point of view of Orthodoxy,
which is rather a novel way to do it. Because all history books are written from
other points of view; either they begin with the idea that there is a Dark Ages and
then enlightened modern ages. And everything is criticized from the point of
view of modern, enlightened scientific world outlook. Or else theres another
school which says that Christianity, Catholic Christianity is the standard; and the
thirteenth century is the pinnacle, and everything else is a falling away from that.
And there are other points of view.
But our point of view is Orthodoxy. And from the point of view of
Orthodoxy, it should be said that the period of the Renaissance is actually
much less significant than the period of the Middle Ages. [During] the period
of the Renaissance we see the most spectacular changes and differences from
the ancient Christianity; but the actual period when the big changes occurred,
which were later to lead to the Renaissance and beyond that, occurred, as we
saw in the last lecture, in the period right after the Schism.
After this everything else becomes a logical deduction from that first
change. Because once Orthodoxy has been left behind, there is nothing but the
playing out of the new principles which came in. And all the principles which
began in the Middle Ages will be worked out right up to the present day, so that
actually today the forces which are shaping history are just the same as they were
in the thirteenth century, only they have attained now a more advanced form.
The period after the Middle Ages is called the period of the Renaissance,
the rebirth, that is, rebirth of antiquity. It is the age of so-called Humanism. And
its very clear already what is the basis of this new epoch.
We saw that the period of the Middle Ages was dominated by
Scholasticism, that is, the reason which becomes autonomous, reason which is
placed above faith. And this reason, as Kireyevsky very well saw, in the
nineteenth century when he was criticizing the West from the Orthodox point of
view, very quickly turned against Christianity. First it was supposed to be the
handmaiden of faith and serve Christianity and prove all the dogmas of faith and
prove a great many other things also based upon authority, the authority both of
Scripture, of some early Fathers, mostly Augustine, and Aristotle, since it was
believed that Aristotle had the true view of nature.
But in the age of the Renaissance, this reason turned against religion.
Because if its [reason is] autonomous, its able to develop its own principles;
theres no reason why it should be bound to the religious content. And also we
saw in the Middle Ages that the great movements -- Francis and Joachim -- were
very monastically, ascetically oriented. But in the Renaissance, there was a
34

complete reaction against that. And again, this simple matter of the context in
which the new ideas arose changed; and therefore no longer were people
interested in either monasticism or having reason serve theology. And so we find
in this period that the idea of monasticism and asceticism is treated extremely
negatively, because the interest in the world has now been awakened.
And so it was natural that at this period Western man turned away from the
Church to pagan Greece and Rome, the monuments of which were all over the
West and especially in Italy. And one writer has even said that at this period,
pagan Greece and Rome had their revenge on Christianity, because that pagan,
antique, ancient civilization had been overthrown by Christianity. The ancient
pagan civilization which placed man first, was first overthrown by Christianity,
and now when reason turned against Christianity, this ancient paganism had its
revenge on Christianity, being united with reason. And in its turn this paganism
gave a great impetus, a great push to an ideal of total worldliness.
So the ideal of the Renaissance is the ideal of natural man and also of a
natural religion which is understandable to reason without any special revelation.
One of the great humanists in the north, Erasmus, found in Greece what he called
the philosophy of Christ, that is, in pagan ancient Greece. >When I read certain
passages of these great men, he wrote of the Greeks, >I can hardly refrain from
saying, St. Socrates, pray for me.2 Of course he probably did not pray to the
saints, and did not pray to Socrates. What he means to say is: these pagan people
are taking the place of the saints.
So it is in this epoch that man was discovered. And there is a tremendous
interest in oneself, the individual. There is a very good book on the subject of the
Renaissance in Italy by Jacob Burckhardt, a nineteenth-century scholar. By the
way, there are quite a few quite good scholars in the nineteenth century and early
twentieth century who developed, who studied quite thoroughly their subjects,
which seldom happens anymore. And they, even when their viewpoint is usually
quite agnostic or even atheist, because they so thoroughly investigate their
subject, you can see quite clearly whats going on. And he treats a lot of the ideas
which were prevalent in this period in Italy, which is the first place of the
Renaissance, which later spread to the north.
Fame
And he cites for example, he has one chapter on the modern idea of fame,
which now first came out -- the first time, that is, since the antiquity. He notes
first of all that even Dante, who has something in common with Middle Ages, is
the first one who can be called someone who is after fame. He says, He strove
for the poets garland with all power of his soul. As a publicist and man of letters,
he laid stress on the fact that what he did was new, and that he wished not only to
be, but to be esteemed the first in his own walks.3 Later there was another, elder,
a later contemporary of Dante, Albertinus Musattus, or Mussatus, who was
crowned poet at Padua by the bishop and rector, enjoyed a fame which fell little
short of deification. Every Christmas day the doctors and students of both
colleges at the university came in a solemn procession before his house with
trumpets and, as it seems, with burning tapers, to salute him and bring him
35

presents. His reputation lasted until, in 1318, he fell into disgrace....4


This new incense which was once offered only to saints and heroes, was
given in clouds to Petrarch, who persuaded himself in his later years that it was
after all but a foolish and troublesome thing.5 Its obvious this is the lowest kind
of worldliness -- the desire to be remembered by, worshipped now and
remembered by posterity....
Amid all these preparations outwardly to win and secure fame the curtain
is now and then drawn aside, and we see with frightful evidence a boundless
ambition and thirst after greatness, independent of all means and consequences.
Thus, in the preface to Machiavellis Florentine history, in which he blames his
predecessors Leonardo Arentino and Poggio for their too considerate reticence
with regard to the political parties in the city: >They erred greatly and showed
that they understood little the ambition of men and the desire to perpetuate a
name. How many who could distinguish themselves by nothing praiseworthy
strove to do so by infamous deeds! Those writers did not consider that actions
which are great in themselves, as is the case with the actions of rulers and of
states, always seem to bring more glory than blame, of whatever kind they are
and whatever the result of them may be. In more than one remarkable and dread
undertaking the motive assigned by serious writers is the burning desire to
achieve something great and memorable. This motive is not a mere extreme case
of ordinary vanity, but something demonic,...6 This is an agnostic writing. What
he means by demonic is something not understandable to human motives.
...Something demonic, involving a surrender of the will, the use of any
means however atrocious, and even an indifference to success itself. In this sense,
for example, Macchiavelli conceived the character of Stefano Porcaro; of the
murderers of Galeazzo Maria Sforza and the assassination of Duke Alessandro of
Florence is ascribed by Varchi himself to the thirst for fame which tormented the
murderer, Lorenzino de Medici.7
Of course we know the history of, something of the history of the Italian
princedoms of this period with these, the infamous De Medicis who even had
Popes among them who are poisoning each other and killing off other families,
and these tremendous rivalries going on. There was even a certain Lorenzino who
brooded over a deed whose novelty shall make his disgrace forgotten, and he
was in some kind of disgrace. And [he] ends by murdering his kinsman and
prince. These are characteristic features of this age of overstrained and despairing
passions and forces.8
And, of course, we see in our own times people who are assassinating
presidents; [theyre] unsuccessful in life; they want somehow to make
themselves known, even if they have to go to prison, [or] be killed for it. The
idea that they will somehow be immortalized, even by some kind of infamous
deed, remembered, because they no longer believe in immortality of the soul.
But this attitude of exalting oneself which appears also in the life of
Benvenuto Cellini whos an adventurer running all around doing everything to
make himself famous, comes directly from the Middle Ages. It comes from what
we saw yesterday, in the last lecture, the preoccupation of Francis of Assisi with
36

himself, with his self-satisfaction, with some kind of dramatic demonstration of


how holy he is. Once the spirit of the times had changed, this same motive
became twisted into a worldly, extremely coarse self-aggrandizement.
And this is extremely far away from Orthodoxy where even the icon
painters usually dont even sign their names. And its not just a matter of
complete anonymity, because we sometimes find the hymns in the Church
books, for example, say this is written by a certain Germanus the Monk or
something like that. But there is no desire to establish oneself as a great poet, a
great writer, a great icon painter who puts ones [name], so ones name will
astonish ones contemporaries. One enters into the tradition and carries on the
tradition that has been before.
And now there is the desire that each artist is going to make a name for
himself. And in the twentieth century, it becomes ridiculous. As we see, most of
these artists have no talent; they think if they splash paint on the canvas as
violently as possible to make a name for themselves.
This is a very deep thing because it involves also a deep layer of
philosophy and even theology. In the traditional Orthodox world-view one begins
with revelation, with tradition, with what has been handed down from the Fathers
and ultimately with God. And if you ask someone how he knows something, he
will say, I know because thats the way God made it, thats the way the Holy
Fathers have handed it down, thats what Holy Scriptures say, and thats the
authority.
In the new age theres a desire to make something else, some kind of a new
idea of certainty. And so a little bit after this period there comes the philosopher
Descartes who is the first modern philosopher. And he bases his whole
philosophy on one thing: I think, therefore, I am.9 And everything else that we
know for certain is based upon this first intuition which, he says, is the only thing
we can know for certain. Because the senses can be mistaken, we can have false
revelations; but one knows for certain that I exist. This shows how this
preoccupation with the self becomes already a theological first principle. And
later on it attains extremely fantastic development.
Superstition
It is seldom noticed, because when we think of Renaissance, the books
usually say this is the age, the beginning of modern enlightenment when the
superstitions of the Middle Ages and the Dark Ages begin to be put away. And so
it is seldom noticed what is very significant about this period -- that it is
accompanied by an increase of superstition. This is the great age of astrology, of
whom Nostradamus is the most famous, of alchemy, Paracelsus and others, and
of witchcraft and sorcery.
Burckhardt has a quote on this subject also. Burckhardt notes in this
chapter called the Mixture of Ancient and Modern Superstition: He says,
...[I]n another way...antiquity exercised a dangerous influence. It
imparted to the Renaissance its own forms of superstition. Some fragments
of this had survived in Italy all through the Middle Ages, and the
resuscitation of the whole was thereby made so much the more easy.10
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But it was in this period of the Renaissance that it really came out.
At the beginning of the thirteenth century, this superstition of astrology,
which had flourished in antiquity, suddenly appeared in the foreground of Italian
life. Thirteenth century, that is, this very same period of the high Middle Ages.
The Emperor Frederick II always traveled with his astrologer Theodorus; and
Ezzelino da Romano with a large, well-paid court of such people, among them
the famous Guido Bonatto and the long-bearded Saracen, Paul of Bagdad. In all
important undertakings they fixed for him the day and the hour, and the gigantic
atrocities of which he was guilty may have been in part practical inferences from
their prophecies. Soon all scruples about consulting the stars ceased.11
And it should be noted that in Orthodoxy, the Fathers are very much
against [this]. Soon all scruples about consulting the stars ceased. Not only
princes, but free cities had their regular astrologers, and at the universities, from
the fourteenth to the sixteenth century, professors of this pseudo-science were
appointed, and lectured side by side with the astronomers. It was well-known that
Augustine and other Fathers of the Church had combated astrology, but their oldfashioned notions were dismissed with easy contempt. That is, theres no longer
an authority in these Fathers because they are looking for some kind of new
religion. The Popes commonly made no secret of their star-gazing, although
Pius II, who also despised magic, omens, and the interpretations of dreams, is an
honorable exception. Julius II, the Pope, on the other hand, had the day for his
coronation and the day for his return from Bologna calculated by the astrologers.
Even Leo X seems to have thought the flourishing condition of astrology a credit
to his pontificate, and Paul III never held a consistory until the star-gazers had
fixed the hour.12
In all the better families the horoscope of the children was drawn as a
matter of course, and it sometimes happened that for half a lifetime men were
haunted by the idle expectation of events which never occurred. The stars were
questioned whenever a great man had to come to any important decision, and
even consulted as to the hour at which any undertaking was to be begun. The
journeys of princes, the reception of foreign ambassadors, the laying of the
foundation-stone of public buildings depended upon the astrologers
answer.13
One might ask why these superstitions or pseudo-sciences now begin to
increase at this time. The answer is because when Orthodox tradition prevails,
there is a knowledge of good and evil. There is a knowledge of evil forces, how
they operate, a standard to measure them by. And when this standard is
abandoned, when you begin to have the idea that there is some new standard
coming in, then there is room for ignorance and superstition to thrive. We will
note later on about the question of superstition in our own times, which is by no
means as simple as people think: the connection, for example, between socialism
and spiritualism which is a very interesting one.
Protestant Reformation
The second great movement in this period of the Renaissance, as it is
usually interpreted by historians, is the Protestant Reformation. This is only
38

outwardly different from humanism; basically it is a part of the same movement.


It is likewise a movement of reason which turns against Scholasticism and tries
to devise a simpler Christianity which any believer can interpret for himself. This
spirit was, later, as Kireyevsky very well says, of the spirit that was to destroy
Protestantism itself. The enlightened observer, Kireyevsky says, could see Luther
behind Scholasticism and the modern liberal Christians behind Luther. Luther
himself was what would probably be considered a narrow fanatic, especially in
his later years, but he opened the gate to total subjectivism in religion. And
thereupon he gives us a key also to today because this same principle, the
individual -- whatever I believe, whatever I think has a right to be heard -- then
becomes the standard. He himself finally achieved some kind of dogmatic
system and tried to force it on his followers. But the very idea which he fought
for was that each individual can interpret for himself; and therefore from him
come sects.
The religious wars which began in this period, because there now were
two religions: first Luther in 1520s who broke off, had already a separate
organization, and Calvin and the other Protestants. And therefore these began to
fight with the Catholic princes. And the religious wars of the sixteenth century
came up, which really ended only about the middle of the seventeenth century.
These wars are rather unimportant in themselves, and their main result was to
discredit religion altogether, and lead in the next historical period, which well
discuss in the next lecture, to the search for a new religion beyond any kind of
Christianity, which is the beginning of modern Free-masonry.
Both Humanism and Protestantism continue the work of Scholasticism
and Francis of Assisi -- the search to improve on Orthodoxy, to improve on
Christianity as it has been handed down in the tradition. So they are continuing
this work of Dostoyevskys Grand Inquisitor. Both Humanism and
Protestantism are stages in the destruction of the Christian world-view. Later
on there are more advanced stages.
Science
Both the Renaissance and the Reformation, though they are the most
spectacular movements of this period, are really not the most significant. They
are only continuing the work of destruction which the Middle Ages began, the
destruction of Orthodox Christianity. And both of them actually stood in the way
of the main movement of the Renaissance period, which was that of the rise of
the modern scientific world-view. Humanism stood in the way of it because it was
preoccupied with the ancient texts and was persuaded that the ancients were
wiser than the moderns; and Protestantism stood in the way of science by its
narrow dogmatism. It is the rise of the new science which is the new and
important thing in this period, which will have the great consequences for the
future centuries.
Science became important in this period because man, being set free from
Orthodox tradition, turned his attention to the outer world. This attention to the
outer world sometimes took forms which were notoriously pagan and immoral.
But this worldly interest was also expressed in the rise of industry and capitalism
39

and in the movement of exploration -- discovery of America and so forth -- these


movements which were to change the face of the earth in future centuries. This
one might speak of as the kind of leaven of worldliness which would penetrate
the whole world and give the tone to todays world which totally lacks the
traditional Orthodox sense of the fear of God, and in fact is possessed by
triviality.
Protestantism is full of this tone which can be observed by looking at the
behavior of any Protestant minister to compare it with the behavior of an
Orthodox priest. The Catholic priest also has this same worldly tone, worldly
spirit; and Orthodox priests who are losing the savor of Orthodoxy enter into this
very same light-minded, jazzy, up-to-date feeling which is the influence of
worldliness, which makes possible such a thing as Disneyland and those things
which any sane person in the Middle Ages or the Renaissance and, above all, in
traditional Christian civilization, would have regarded as some kind of madness.
Now we come to the most important aspect of this period of the
Renaissance, which is the rise of modern science. This is the discovery of a new
key to knowledge and truth. And actually what it is, is a new scholasticism. The
scientific method replaces the Scholastic method as the means of attaining truth.
And just like Scholasticism it leads to the loss of all truths which do not fit into
its framework which is a very narrow and rigid one.
It is extremely interesting that modern science is born in so-called
mysticism, just as we shall see later on socialism was born in a kind of
mysticism. This mystical outlook was the Platonism and Pythagoreanism which
were revived together with ancient studies, which communicated the faith that
the world is ordered according to number. The philosophy, the system of
Pythagoras especially is based upon the harmonious order of the numbers which
corresponds to the outward world. And we see in the modern world that the union
of mathematics with observation has indeed changed the face of the earth,
because it is true that the world is ordered according to number. But this in the
beginning was known only dimly, and it was this faith of the Pythagoreans and
Platonists that the numbers corresponded to reality and the investigation into the
mysteries of nature which led to the discoveries which changed the world
outlook.
Modern science also was borne on the experiments of the Platonic
alchemists, the astrologers and magicians. The underlying spirit of the new
scientific world-view was the spirit of Faustianism, the spirit of magic, which is
retained as a definite undertone in contemporary science today. The discovery, in
fact, of atomic energy would have delighted the Renaissance alchemists very
much. They were looking exactly for power like that.
The aim of modern science is power over nature, and Descartes, who
formulated the mechanistic/scientific world-view said that man is to become the
master and possessor of nature. It should be noted that this is a religious faith that
takes the place of Christian faith. Even the rationalist Descartes who said that the
whole of nature is nothing but a great machine and gave thus the
mechanistic/scientific outlook which exists, even today predominates in scientific
40

research -- he himself in his youth had strange dreams and visions, and after he
had devised his new science he had a vision of the angel of truth. Descartes. This
angel of truth commanded him to trust his new science which would give him all
knowledge. And knowledge, of course, had the purpose of making man the
master and possessor of nature. This religious nature of scientific faith can be
seen today when the breakdown of scientific faith, which has been dominant
these last centuries, is leading now to a new crisis in religion. Because now men
come to the question: what can one believe if even science, which is supposed to
be the ultimate certainty, if it gives no certainty? And so, new irrational
philosophies are born and the wish to believe in new gods.
This scientific world outlook which is now breaking down is producing
this restlessness which we sense in the air today. And a number of people who are
inspired by this restlessness are now coming to Orthodoxy. In fact, that is the
position in very much of our converts. And its very important all the more,
therefore, since we are trying to defend ourselves against false philosophies, to
understand that if coming to Orthodoxy we do not fully understand the Orthodox
world-view and enter into it, we will become the pawns of these new irrational
philosophies which will take the place of the scientific faith.
The scientific texts of the Renaissance period are filled with Platonic and
pseudo-Christian mysticism and with the conviction that the mystery of the
universe is now being discovered. Because before the Middle Ages in traditional
Christian times, in Byzantium, in the West before the Schism, in Russia and other
Orthodox civilizations, there was no desire to unravel the mystery of the universe
because we had the knowledge, sufficient knowledge of God for salvation. And
we knew that the universe is -- there are many aspects we dont understand. We
know enough to save our souls. And the rest of it is this sphere of magic,
alchemy and all kinds of dark sciences. But now the Christian faith is being
rejected, the religious interest is projected into the world. And therefore [we see]
the idea that theres a mystery of the universe which, by the way, is very much
with many modern scientists.
At the present day, scientific knowledge is felt to be almost an intolerable
weight upon men. And many people feel that the rise of modern science has as its
ultimate aim the bringing of mankind to total slavery. And even today we have
people seriously in American universities teaching that man is entirely
determined, that scientists must sort of govern his future, that you can put a little
calculator of some kind in the pocket, hook it up to the brain; and whenever
anyone performs an act which is anti-social, against whatever the leaders want,
they will get an impulse from the brain which will give them such a pain that
they will stop acting contrary to society.
Student: Youre talking about Skinner?
Fr. S: Yes. Skinner and those people.
And so this scientific faith, this scientific knowledge is felt to be very cold
and heavy today. And therefore its very interesting to understand how the first
scientific, the ones who were discovering the new scientific view felt. And there
were some at that time who felt a mysterious exaltation at this new religion of
41

science.
A very good example of this is the astronomer and philosopher, Giordano
Bruno, who was one of the typical wanderers of modern times. He was a
Dominican monk who ran away from his monastery. He went to the north; he
met Luther. He was very much attracted by Lutheranism, then by Calvinism.
Then he became disillusioned. He was excommunicated by Luther. He was
excommunicated by Calvin. He went to England and fell in love with Queen
Elizabeth, and then discovered that he wasnt so popular, and he cursed Oxford.
Then he went to France, and the king invited him there to give lectures. He had
special kind of techniques in memory training that people thought were
something close to magic. But he was also teaching the new astronomy; that is,
he was one of the first followers of the Copernican theory. But nowhere did he
feel any kind of rest. He was full of this restless spirit of the age; but nowhere did
he find peace.
But he was one who felt the consequences of the Copernican revolution,
about which well talk in a minute. That is, the fact that the earth goes around the
sun and not the sun around the earth was for him a definite discovery which had
religious consequences. He said as a result of this: Man is no more than an ant in
the presence of the infinite, and a star is no more than a man.14 That is very
contemporary feeling that man is lost in the immensity of space. But he did not
feel it to be something cold. Today we think of something horrible and cold, and
man is lost in space. He did not believe that because he saw everywhere God, his
idea of God. He said that nature is God in things. He had a kind of mystic
pantheism. And he said that matter is divine. He said God, which has been lost
because the Orthodox world-view has been rejected, is now projected into matter.
He found God everywhere in the life of the universe. He believed that even the
planets were alive -- maybe not personal intelligence -- but some kind of life was
glowing through these stars and through these creatures. And perhaps this is not
too far away from Francis of Assisi.
When the earth is dislodged from the center of things, he saw, or thought
he saw, all boundaries vanish. He believed that the universe is infinite. Theres an
infinite number of worlds and an infinite number of intelligences upon these
worlds, other kinds of humanity, these ideas which modern people very much are
intrigued by.
According to him, to know nature is to know God. Each advance in
science and the knowledge of nature is a new revelation, that is, something
religious. He himself said that he was attracted by the darkness of the
unknowable in the same way
that a moth is drawn to the flame which devours it. And he, by that,
unwittingly prophesied his own end, because he was arrested by the Inquisition
and burned at the stake as a heretic. But he died like a martyr. He was very
calm and said that he would not change his views; he believed what he
believed.
Later on he was almost totally forgotten until around 1870 [when] his
writings began to be published, and now hes becoming more and more known,
42

and books in English came out about him. Theres a pillar was built in Rome on
the site of his burning.
This mysticism of nature which he had at the very beginning of modern
science is very interesting because it is echoed by another kind of mysticism of
science which occurs now when the scientific world-view has collapsed or
where it is coming to its end, that is, the so-called mysticism of Teilhard de
Chardin -- [which well look at in] a later chapter.
The Copernican Revolution
The key moment in the rise to power of the scientific faith, the scientific
world-view, is the so-called Copernican revolution.
Giordano Bruno died in 1600. Copernicus died 1543, and his book came
out in the year of his death, 1543. Before this time medieval astronomy and
astronomy from ancient times had been based upon the geocentric theory that the
earth was in the center of the universe and everything revolved around it. But
there were certain irregular motions of the planets, in order to explain which, the
astronomers developed all kinds of cycles within cycles to show that they were
making irregular movements. And the new faith in Platonic mysticism -- that the
numbers correspond to reality, that God does things, nature does things in the
simplest possible way -- made some people dissatisfied with this. And
Copernicus made all kinds of calculations and finally came to the discovery -which was based not on observation; it was based upon mathematical faith -- that,
to make the simplest possible explanation of the movements in the sky, one must
assume that the earth goes around the sun together with the planets.
About this one should say two things: the discovery of this new truth -which seems to be true because you can aim a rocket and get it to the right place
in the sky by believing this -- the discovery of this new truth does not refute the
fact that the heavenly bodies do in fact go around the earth because anybody can
observe that every day. The scientific truth of heliocentricism, that the earth goes
around the sun, only explains, on the scientific level, the complex movements
which the heavenly bodies and the earth make with regard to each other in order
to create the effect we see every day, which is that the sun goes around the earth.
In the same way the scientific explanation of greenness, as the joining
together of sun, eyes, and a configuration of molecules in a plant, does not
change the fact that I see a green forest. And if I am sound in mind and soul, I
delight in it. I still see the forest. You can explain it on some kind of technical
level and maybe even get a deeper understanding of the causes which produce
this effect; but the effect is the same. And this failure to distinguish between these
two things caused a lot of confusion at this period; because the scientific theory
of heliocentricism does not explain the very essence of things; it only explains
that some kind of complicated interrelationships which produce certain effects.
And the effect remains the same.
And so the Copernican theory does not explain away either the Book of
Psalms which talks about the sun knoweth his going down (Ps. 104:19) and
does not contradict our daily experience of seeing the sun go around the earth.
People who change their minds and think only in terms of this -- that the earth
43

going around the sun as a fact of everyday experience -- are mixing up what is
some kind of technical explanation with everyday experience. There are two
different spheres. The second thing to say about this Copernican revolution is
that the so-called new universe which is opened up by the Copernican
revolution, is not incompatible with Orthodoxy. Kireyevsky, in fact, says that
Orthodox people can only be astonished that they wanted to burn Galileo at the
stake for the fact that he said the heresy -- they even called it the heresy -- that
the earth goes around the sun. And Kireyevsky says its incomprehensible to an
Orthodox person how this can be a heresy. Because Scholastic rationalism had
so taken possession of Western minds that all the syllogisms of Scholasticism
whether based on Scripture or based on Aristotle were of equal value, and so the
theories about whether the earth moves or stands still become on the level of
dogma. Whereas Orthodoxy carefully distinguishes the truths which are of faith
-- the dogmas -- from those which are outward and are open to various
interpretations and speculations.
And in the writings on Hexaemeron of St. Ambrose Andrew the Great, St.
Basil the Great and other Holy Fathers, they are very careful to distinguish what
is revealed by God and what is only the speculations of men. And he says its
unimportant for us to speculate about how all these things come to pass, what
stands still, what moves, how the comets can be explained; all that is very
secondary and does not effect our faith.
The Copernican revolution gave rise to new religious views of man
dethroned and alone in a cold and infinite universe. But these religious views are
not deducible from the new facts. The new facts themselves do not change
anything in ones religion. They only show that the primary impulse in this new
scientific world-view was a religious impulse, that men were searching for some
new faith which can be found by looking at the outward world. Men wished to
have a new faith, and they used the facts which they discovered to help bring this
about. The same thing happens all the time from then on in the history of the
modern West.
The next thing well discuss will be something which is perhaps not of
direct historical significance, but it is something which is of very deep
significance as revealing the philosophy of modern man and a forerunner of later
movements. This concerns some of the religious movements of the Renaissance
period, besides the Protestant Reformation.
Chiliasm
One might say that the mainstream of religion at this time was
Protestantism and the increasingly secularized Catholicism, both of which were
reducing religion to reason and feeling. It might be said that Catholicism tried to
preserve something of the past, but it was obviously making great concessions to
the spirit of the age, which it itself had started; it was very much bound up with
the new age. But in this period there are a number of underground currents in
religion which are very symptomatic.
There were movements of chiliasm. And one classic book on this called
44

The Pursuit of the Millennium, which is a study of the chiliastic movements of


this period from the Middle Ages to the Reformation.
Norman Cohn says: There seems to be no evidence of such movements
having occurred before the closing years of the eleventh century.15 That is
precisely the time when Rome left the Church. That same new spirit revealed
itself in the rise of these new sects.
This is also the same period, by the way, that the practice of flagellation
began -- after Rome had left the Church. This author is very secularly oriented
and says that this is because of the new social conditions, that is, the rise of trade
and industry replacing agriculture. But we can say safely that the new mental
conditions, the beginning, the opening of the possibility for a new kind of
Christianity once Orthodoxy is left behind: this is more likely the dominant
reason.
He even talks about this in this book, contrasting the attitude before the
Middle Ages with the attitude in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance: ...[I]f
poverty, hardships and an often oppressive dependence could by themselves
generate it, revolutionary chiliasm would have run strong amongst the peasantry
of medieval Europe. In point of fact it was seldom to be found at all. A marked
eagerness on the part of serfs to run away; recurrent efforts on the part of peasant
communities to extract concessions; brief, spasmodic revolts -- such things were
familiar enough in the life of many a manor. But it was only very rarely that
settled peasants could be induced to embark on the pursuit of the Millennium.16
What hes describing is the civilization of a traditional Orthodox place,
land -- but under new conditions, both under new outward conditions when trade
and industry arise, and many of these new sectarians were in the weaving guilds
where they had chance of unemployment when the foreign markets were closed
and so forth. The unsettledness of their life had an influence on the religious
views also, but also because this new spirit came in, which meant that Orthodoxy
was not enough. And there was a beginning of a search for a new Christianity, a
new religion.
In the traditional, tradition-oriented society, this same author says, the
very thought of any fundamental transformation of society was scarcely
conceivable.17 And these new movements began to conceive of the idea of a
fundamental transformation of society, that is, the beginning of what we will later
find out is the movement of the revolution of modern times.
Some of these sectarians were called the Brethren of the Free Spirit, and
they flourished from the eleventh century onward with a doctrine that God is all
that is; every created thing is divine, that a new age of the Holy Spirit is coming,
and when Joachim of Flores already proclaimed his teaching, they followed his
teaching that each person has the Holy Spirit and is himself divine and, therefore,
he can commit sin and still be pure. There is a certain Sister Catherine in the
fourteenth century who had an ecstatic experience and then proclaimed: Rejoice
with me, for I have become God.18 This is not so far away again from Francis
of Assisi.
Another movement is called the Taborite Movement in the fifteenth
45

century which was a movement of communism, a return to the golden age where
everyone is equal. There was at this time a certain Thomas Mntzer who was
born just a few years after Luther who preached the millennium and the mass
extermination of all those who were opposed to his doctrine. According to him all
things were to be held in common. But he was captured and killed after a revolt
which he tried to lead. Interestingly enough, this very man Thomas Mntzer was
idealized by Friedrich Engels who wrote a whole book about him, I believe. And
the Communist historians down to the present day in Russia will say that hes a
forerunner of Communism, and well see later on that his economic ideas have
nothing to do with it. He was[, however,] in the same spirit as the Communist
movement, which is a millennarian movement, chiliastic movement[, but unlike
Mntzer,?] without talking about the Holy Spirit.
Then again in 1534 there are people who called themselves Anabaptists,
that is, who were against infant baptism because each person has to know
himself what hes being, what hes getting in for. They had an armed rising in
Munster, which was preceded by wild men running in the streets calling for
repentance; and there were apocalyptic visions right in the streets. This city of
Munster was proclaimed to be the New Jerusalem. Most of the Lutherans left.
And the Anabaptists through all the towns about came to this city of Munster
which had a population of around ten thousand. They went through the
monasteries and churches, looted them. And in one night, they got all the
paintings and statues and books from the Catholic cathedral and destroyed them.
Two so-called Dutch prophets became their leaders, Matthys and
Bockelson, and they turned this city into a theocracy. All Lutherans and Catholics
who remained were condemned to be executed; but then they softened this and
expelled them from the city.
After this a new law court was set up in which it was an offense to be
unbaptized in the Anabaptist faith, which was punishable by killing. The only
ones who were to be left in the city were to be the brothers and sisters, the
Children of God. The Catholic bishop, of course, was opposed to this and
besieged the town. At this time a state of perfect so-called communism was
established. All their property was confiscated by the leaders; all who
disapproved of the doctrine or expressed any dissent were imprisoned and
executed. And while actually they were executed they sang hymns. A reign of
terror was established which is described in this book with some detail:
The terror had begun and it was in an atmosphere of terror that Matthys
proceeded to carry into effect the communism which had already hovered for so
many months, a splendid millennial vision, in the imagination of the Anabaptists.
A propaganda campaign was launched by Matthys...and other preachers. It was
announced that true Christians should possess no money of their own but should
hold all money in common; from which it followed that all money, and also all
gold and silver ornaments, must be handed over. At first this order met with
opposition; some Anabaptists buried their money. Matthys responded by
intensifying the terror. The men and women who had been baptized only at the
time of the expulsions were collected together and informed that unless the
46

Father chose to forgive them they must perish by the swords of the righteous.
They were then locked inside a church, where they were kept in uncertainty for
many hours until they were utterly demoralized. At length Matthys entered the
church with a band of armed men. His victims crawled towards him on their
knees, imploring him, as the favorite of the Father, to intercede for them. This he
did or pretended to do; and in the end informed the terrified wretches that he had
won their pardon and that the Father was pleased to receive them into the
community of the righteous. After this exercise in intimidation Matthys could
feel much easier about the state of morale in the New Jerusalem.
Propaganda against the private ownership of money continued for weeks
on end, accompanied both by the most seductive blandishments and by the most
appalling threats. The surrender of money was made a test of true Christianity.
Those who failed to comply were declared fit for extermination and it seems that
some executions did take place. After two months of unremitting pressure the
private ownership of money was effectively abolished. From then on money was
used only for public purposes involving dealings with the outside world, for
hiring mercenaries to fight against the bishop, buying supplies and distributing
propaganda. Artisans within the town...received their wages not in cash but in
kind....19
The abolition of private ownership of money, the restriction of private
ownership of food and shelter were seen as first steps towards a state in
which...everything would belong to everybody and the distinctions between
Mine and Thine would disappear. Bockelsen himself expressed it thus: >all
things were to be in common, there was to be no private property and nobody
was to do any more work, but simply trust in God.20
A scholar from Antwerp wrote to Erasmus of Rotterdam, who of course did
not like all these irrational movements because he believed men should be
rational and liberal and tolerant, >We in these parts are living in wretched
anxiety because of the way the revolt of the Anabaptists has flared up. For it
really did spring up like fire. There is, I think, scarcely a village or town where
the torch is not glowing in secret. They preach community of goods, with the
result that all those who have nothing come flocking.21 You can see, of course,
that there will be many secondary motives of people who come, but that also the
fact that this movement could spread like wild-fire means there is a deep
expectation, some kind chiliastic new religion. ...In the middle of March
Matthys banned all books save the Bible. All other works, even those in the
private ownership, had to be brought to the cathedral-square and thrown upon a
great bonfire.22
Then this Matthys made a mistake. He had a divine command to go out
and fight the enemy, and the enemy killed him. So then Bockelson took over and
proclaimed himself to be king. His first act was to run naked through the town in
a frenzy and fell into an ecstasy for three days. When speech returned to him he
called the population together and announced that God had revealed to him that
the old constitution of the town, being the work of men, must be replaced by a
new one which would be the work of God. The burgomasters and Council were
47

deprived of their functions. In their place Bockelson set himself and -- on the
model of Ancient Israel -- twelve elders....
Sexual behavior was at first regulated as strictly as all other aspects of
life. The only form of sexual relationship permitted was marriage between two
Anabaptists. Adultery and fornicationCwhich were held to include marriage with
one of the >godlessC that is, married, marrying one of the godless, were
capital offenses. This was in keeping with the Anabaptist tradition.... This order
came to an abrupt end, however, when Bockelson decided to establish
polygamy....23
Like community of goods, polygamy met with resistance when it was first
introduced. There was an armed rising during which Bockelson, Knipperdollinck
and the preachers were thrown into prison; but the rebels, being only a small
minority, were soon defeated and some fifty of them were put to death.24 This
very city has about 10,000 people in it. During the following days others who
ventured to criticize the new doctrine were also executed; and by August
polygamy was established.... The religious ceremony of marriage was eventually
dispensed with and marriages were contracted and dissolved with great facility.
Even if much in the hostile accounts which we possess is discounted as
exaggeration, it seems certain that norms of sexual behavior in the Kingdom of
the Saints traversed the whole arc from a rigorous puritanism to sheer
promiscuity....25
Bockelsons prestige was at its highest when, at the end of August, 1534,
a major attack was beaten off so effectively that the bishop found himself
abruptly deserted both by his vassals and by the mercenaries. Bockelson would
have done well to organize a sortie which might perhaps have captured the
bishops camp, but instead he used the opportunity to have himself proclaimed
king.26
There was a certain goldsmith who came now as a prophet. One day, in
the main square, this man declared that the Heavenly Father had revealed to him
that Bockelson was to be king of the whole world, holding dominion over all
kings, princes and great ones of the earth. He was to inherit the scepter and
throne of his forefather David and was to keep them until God should reclaim
the kingdom from him....27
The new king did everything possible to emphasize the unique
significance of his accession. The streets and gates in the town were given new
names; Sundays and feastdays were abolished and the days of the week were
renamed on an alphabetical system; even the names of new-born children were
chosen by the king according to a special system. Although money had no
function in Munster a new purely ornamental coinage was created. Gold and
silver coins were minted, with inscriptions summarizing the whole millennial
fantasy which gave the kingdom its meaning. Inscriptions included: >The Word
has become Flesh and dwells in us; >One King over all. One God, one Faith, one
Baptism. A special emblem was devised to symbolize Bockelsons claim to
absolute spiritual and temporal dominion over the whole world: a globe,
representing the world, pierced by the two swords (of which hitherto pope and
48

emperor had each borne one) and surmounted by a cross inscribed with the
words: >One king of righteousness over all. The king himself wore this emblem,
modeled in gold, hanging by a gold chain from his neck. His attendants wore it as
a badge on their sleeves; and it was accepted in Munster as the emblem of the
new state....28
In the market-place a throne was erected; draped with cloth of gold it
towered above the surrounding benches which were allotted to the royal
councilors and the preachers. Sometimes the king would come there to sit in
judgment or to witness the proclamation of new ordinances. Heralded by a
fanfare, he would arrive on horseback, wearing his crown and carrying his
scepter. In front of him marched officers of the court, behind him the chief
minister and a long line of ministers, courtiers and servants. The royal
bodyguard accompanied and protected the whole procession and formed a
cordon around the square while the king occupied his throne. On either side of
the throne stood a page, one holding a copy of the Old Testament -- to show that
the king was a successor of David and endowed with authority to interpret anew
the Word of God -- the other holding a naked sword.
While the king elaborated this magnificent style of life for himself, his
wives and friends, he imposed on the mass of the people a rigorous austerity.
People who had already surrendered their gold and silver29 now submitted to a
requisition of their food and accommodations.
In the new works which now were written, the fantasy of the Three Ages
of Joachim of Flores appeared in a new form. The First Age was the age of sin
and lasted until the Flood, the Second Age was the age of persecution and the
Cross and it lasted down to the present; the Third Age was to be the age of the
vengeance and triumph of the Saints. Christ, it was explained, had once tried to
restore the sinful world to truth, but with no lasting success.30 You see the new
Christianity must improve upon the old Christianity.
Terror, long a familiar feature of life in the New Jerusalem, was
intensified during Bockelsons reign. Within a few days of his proclamation of
the monarchy, Dusentschur, one of the ministers, proclaimed that it had been
revealed to him that in future all who persisted in sinning against the recognized
truth must be brought before the king and sentenced to death. They would be
extirpated from the Chosen People; their very memory would be blotted out,
their souls would find no mercy beyond the grave. Within a couple of days
executions began.31
They sent out emissaries, prophet[?] of the Apostles, to arouse other cities
to the same revolution. The aim of all these insurrections was the one appointed
by Bockelson, and it was still the identical aim which had inspired so many
millennial movements...: >To kill all monks and priests and all rulers that there
are in the world, for our king alone is the rightful ruler.32
...During these last, most desperate weeks of the siege, -- the Catholic
bishop again was besieging them -- Bockelson displayed to the full his mastery
of the technique of terror. At the beginning of May the town was divided for
administrative purposes into twelve sections and over each section was placed a
49

royal officer with the title of Duke and an armed force of twenty-four men.33
They were forbidden ever to leave their sections, so they couldntt have a
rebellion against the king.
They proved loyal enough and exercised against the common people a
ruthless terror.... Any man who was found to be plotting to leave the town, or to
have helped anyone else to leave, or to have criticized the king or his policy, was
at once beheaded. These executions were mostly carried out by the king himself,
who declared that he would gladly do the same to every king and prince.
Sometimes the body was quartered and the sections nailed up in prominent places
as a warning. By mid-June such performances were taking place almost daily.
Rather than surrender the town Bockelson would doubtless have let the
entire population starve to death; but in the event the siege was brought abruptly
to a close. Two men escaped by night from the town and indicated to the
besiegers certain weak spots in the defenses. On the night of June 24th, 1535, the
besiegers launched a surprise attack and penetrated into the town. After some
hours of desperate fighting, the last two or three hundred male surviving male
Anabaptists accepted an offer of safe-conduct, laid down their arms and
dispersed to their homes, only to be killed one by one...in a massacre which
lasted for several days.34
We see in the picture this King John of Leyden.35
These Anabaptists have survived at the present time in such communities
as Mennonites, the Brethren and the Hutterian Brethren, but of course as an
historical movement it lost its influence shortly after this time. But even this
agnostic historian says an interesting thing. He finds that these movements hes
studying are very similar to the movements in twentieth century of Nazism and
Communism. And he notes that: Some suspicion of this has occurred to
Communist and Nazi ideologists themselves. An enthusiastic if fanciful
exposition of the heterodox German mysticism of the fourteenth century with
appropriate tributes to Beghards, Beguines and Brethren of the Free Spirit, fills a
long chapter of Rosenburgs Myth of the Twentieth Century; -- hes the leading
apologist for Hitler -- while a Nazi historian devoted a whole volume to
interpreting the message of the Revolutionary of the Upper Rhine. As for the
Communists, they continue to elaborate, in volume after volume, that cult of
Thomas Mntzer which was inaugurated already by Engels. But whereas in these
works the prophetae of a vanished world are shown as men born centuries before
their time, it is perfectly possible to draw the opposite moral -- that, for all their
exploitation of the most modern technology, Communism and Nazism have been
inspired by fantasies which are downright archaic.36 In any case, in many
respects, they are both heavily indebted to that very ancient body of beliefs
which constituted the popular apocalyptic lore of Europe.37
Looking at what is happening in the twentieth century, one could say more
than that: that that chiliastic expectation, the desire for a new kind of Christianity
which we realize in this world, is one of the dominant traits of the modern
mentality. And this earlier explosion faded away, but later it on came out in a
stronger form. And in fact today some half the world is in possession of people
50

who think very much like these people and have the same elements of terror, of
killing off all enemies, the same kind of frantic...
Fr. H: The Gulag.
Fr. S: Yes, the Gulag; the same frantic talking about the enemies who
are about to destroy them, the bourgeoisie, the exploiters of the factory
workers and so forth.
This man and theres other ones like this, who led these millennial
rebellions in the age of the Renaissance, which did not occur in the settled age
before the Schism, are precisely forerunners of Antichrist. And now it becomes
the case that whole cities, whole groups of people can follow these false leaders
who have the most fantastic and wild expectations and descriptions of themselves
-- they are the rulers of this world. So this thing which began in the Middle Ages
now becomes stronger, the search for a universal monarchy.
Renaissance Art
The art of this period which is, of course, some of the great art of Western
man, reveals -- some things we wont go into: the resurrection of antiquity, the
endless naked statues and all that, which are obviously a resurrection of the
paganism of the body and this world. Well look at a few of the religious
paintings.
These are, from the Orthodox point of view, blasphemy. We know that for
many of the painters, they had a very loose life. They had their mistresses pose
as the Virgin Mary. And you can go through painting after painting of this
period and see nothing which is recognizable as a religious, really religious
thing. There are a number of them which are simply pagan and even quite
indecent. And others are more refined but still the same principles of.... You can
see the fat chubby child, kind of just naked, and the women are obviously
worldly women. Sometimes theyre coarse, sometimes refined, but its the same
kind of worldliness. And you can go through all these ones: the Rubens, the
Tintoretto, the Rafael -- they all have the same extremely worldly spirit. There
are some, oh, well talk about him in a minute. But you can glance at some of
these pictures that are all sort different themes. Even one here by Caravaggio,
its quite early, a little later, 1600. He has a picture of the ecstasy of Francis,
which is very interesting. It fits in with all that....(sound fades)
There are some who tried to revive religious art, the chief of whom was
Fra Angelico; but he was very much against all this paganism and tried to get
back to real religious art. You can see that in some of these the people are trying
to be pious. They arent just worldly; but if you look at them you can see that the
spirit is a little different, but still the same worldly spirit has been entered very
much in. The robes are extremely gorgeous. The paintings extremely beautiful.
And the attempt to make some kind of piety which is just plain prelest. Some of
these are very Latin. Some of them like El Greco are just obviously prelest, some
kind of a distortions which are far from -- hes supposed to be Greek, thats what
hes supposed to be. Historians say he has Byzantium influence; and of course,
its nothing of the sort.
Question: Are those supposed to be Mary and Christ?
51

Fr. S: Yeah. Those are, those are the best of this period.
Some of them, especially the ones in Spain or the north, become more and
more bloody and ghastly. And some of them like these -- Botticelli and Botticini,
theyre very sort of lovely if you dont look at the child, the chubby child. The
Virgin and Christ make exquisite creatures. If we look at some of the paintings
of Botticelli -- we dont have the one thats in color, but heres this painting of
the birth of Venus which is an extremely lovely thing if you look at the colors.
Here its just black and white, but you can see its extremely finely done. But its
pure paganism; its the birth of Venus out of a shell. And its obvious this is some
kind of a new religion. Its very close to this thing which we mentioned about
Bruno, that matter is divine, that matter is so lovely, the world has been
discovered; and it is full of such lovely beauty and such mystery that the painter
can somehow bring it out.
And likewise the same thing we feel from Michelangelo. You look at
some of these sort of Promethean figures, obviously some kind of new religion,
totally unchristian belief that man is divine...trying to capture some kind of
beauty in this world. The other world is completely lost. In Da Vincis Last
Supper, its all some kind of drama, sort of an arranged pose, very nicely. You
can see that whatever Giotto still had and those artists of the Middle Ages,
whatever they preserved is totally lost now.
And heres one which is Fra Angelico, who tried to get back to the
religious meaning. You can see this is the typical Catholic prelest. The people
are, its so lovely -- pink and blue, and all these colors. And if you see the actual
painting probably its stunning. But if you look at the people, such stupid
expressions on their faces, so posed, so dramatic. Its Christ crowning the Virgin,
but its very -- no religious meaning at all.
And theres another one here. It shows the Crucifixion already now some
kind of realism, the emphasis all on the symbolic. The icon, theres nothing
recognizable as an icon; its totally worldly. And those that are the religious are
in prelest.
And very likely, there are some which are mixed up with all kinds of
sectarianism. Heres one by Hieronomous Bosch about paradise, Christ with
Adam and Eve in paradise which is filled with all kinds of symbolism. He
himself was supposed to be mixed up with one of those sects, the Brethren of the
Free Spirit. Undoubtedly expresses all kinds of sectarian fantasies about Adam
and Eve. We just read about St. Paul, the Life of St. Paul of Obnora, how he lived
like Adam in paradise with the animals. And these people [had] lost that idea of
the ascetic living like Adam and Eve. We should look at the rest of the pictures.
Some frightful pictures [some of] which arent very suitable. But this one
shows how -- well, its sort of sectarian. Because the sectarians believed at that
time was to get back to the state of paradise, Adam and Eve. And thats why
they go naked and they have everything in common and think that theyre
establishing a new reign of paradise on earth.
Heres another one, a very lovely one by Fra Angelico with peacocks and
all kinds of things which are so full of some kind of different religious spirit. Its
52

prelest...
Just looking at these paintings already reveals that between Orthodoxy and
this, there is already a gulf which is so great it cannot be breached. If one is going
to become Orthodox; if hes already Orthodox, he can only be an individual who
comes back to the truth and realizes what is truth, how far hes gone astray. But
to talk about union with people who have religious paintings like that shows that
you dont know what youre talking about. Its a different religion.
Summary
So in summary we will mention the main characteristics which come
out in this period:
The first one is the rise of the self as the new god. It becomes, now it has
not become expressed in this way, but in the later period already we will see
people talking about the individual as being god. This is the meaning of
Humanism and Protestantism: get rid of the religious tradition, the Orthodox
tradition so that the new god can be born.
The second idea, very strong, is that just as the individual god is being
born also the world now becomes divine. This is expressed by Bruno in so many
words: if matter is divine, that God is in the world, the world is an alive breathing
of God, that the soul of the world is the Holy Spirit. And you see it in some of
these paintings, how much people like Botticelli believed something like this,
that nature is divine. A pantheistic view. But something which invests the world
with a significance which, according to Orthodox thought, it cannot have. The
world comes from nothing; it is to go, its to vanish away and be recreated by
God as a new world. But they want this world to last. And therefore they put a
divine meaning into it. And this becomes very important doctrine later on.
Again, the search for the new Christianity results now in much more
bizarre religious experiments: the Brethren of the Free Spirit, the new religions of
the Third Age of the Holy Spirit, the Anabaptists. And these become stronger as
the old religious standard fades more into the background. Later on the attempt to
make a new Christianity becomes much less recognizable as Christian.
And finally there are now beginning to arise for the first time some serious
candidates for antichrist, that is, forerunners of antichrist. These people like this
John of Leyden set themselves up as Christ come back to earth. And this idea of
the world monarchy, the world theocracy, although it is still underground, is also
getting stronger and is able to move a whole city.
We will see what happens to all these movements in the next age, which is
the age of the so-called Enlightenment, which, just like the age of the
Renaissance, has, besides its main current of rationalism, this very distinct
current, undercurrent of irrationalism.
This whole movement of the period of the Renaissance, therefore, shows
the development of the seeds which were planted in the period of the Middle
Ages by the departure of Rome from the Orthodox Church. And already in the
period of Renaissance, what results is extremely different from Orthodoxy. If you
look at the Middle Ages, there are some things which seem much closer.
Outwardly they are much closer, but inside they have the seeds which are to
53

produce all the things which are to come afterwards. So that the difference
between Middle Ages and Renaissance is actually less than the difference
between Orthodox Rome and Rome of the Middle Ages. And all these
movements are growing. Some of them burst up like these apocalyptic
movements. Some of them suddenly blaze up and then die down, but they still are
part of the mentality which is being formed. And they come up later in extremely
strange forms, which if you look at them philosophically, theologically, you can
see that they are the same movement.
And so this man [Cohn] here who writes about the millennium is wrong
when he thinks that you can show that one is either archaic or that the other is
progressive. Thats beside the point. The point is they are both there as part of
the mentality being formed. Sometimes they show a direct growth, like the
growth of science; and sometimes they show, they flare up and die out. But there
are certain things which are the basic recurring motives of modern thought,
which are the things which we will concentrate on.
The next lecture will be examining the period of the eighteenth century,
well, the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when the scientific world-view
becomes dominant and there seems to be some kind of equilibrium established,
some kind of harmony. And the history of the world since then is the history of
the falling away from this harmony. We will try to show what this harmony
consisted of, and why there had to be the falling away from it to produce the
world of anarchy in which we live now. And the whole thing from Middle Ages
to Renaissance to the Enlightenment Age to the Romantic Age and today, all
follows a definite logical progression, showing us that once Orthodoxy is left
behind, there is a certain natural process which works. And the devil of course is
always there. And well see over and over again that great leaders in modern
thought will begin with some kind of a vision, and even some kind of -- we can
see that the devil is working. And they no longer have any idea that the devil can
do things like that. And therefore they are much more inclined to accept their
visions as some kind of revelation.
1. Read during monastic meal the day of this lecture.
2. Quoted in Randall, John Herman, The Making of the Modern Man,
Houghton Mifflin Co., 1926, Boston, p. 134]
3. Burckhardt, Jacob, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, Vol. I,
Harper Torchbooks, New York, 1958, p. 151.
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid., p. 152.
6. Ibid., p. 162.
7. Ibid.
8. Ibid., p. 162.
9. See note Lecture 2.
10.Burckhardt, Vol II, p. 484.
11.Ibid.
12.Ibid., p. 485.
54

13.Ibid., p. 486.
14.Randall, John Hermann, The Making of the Modern Mind, The Riverside Press,
Houghton Mifflin Co., Cambridge, Massechusetts, 1926, p. 243.
15.Cohn, Norman, The Pursuit of the Millenium, Harper Torchbooks, 1961, New
York, p. 22.
16.Ibid. p. 24.
17.Ibid.
18.Catherine of Siena: The Dialogue, transl. & intr. by Suzanne Noffke, O.P., Paulist
Press, 1980, pp. 25-26. Catherine dictated The Dialogue during a 5-day ecstatic
experience, referring to herself in the third person or as the soul: A soul rises
up...she seeks to pursue truth and clothe herself in it. But there is no way she can
so savor and be enlightened by this truth as in continual humble prayer, grounded
in the knowledge of herself and of God. For by such prayer the soul is united
with God, following in the footsteps of Christ crucified, and through desire and
affection and the union of love he makes of her another himself. So Christ seems
to have meant when he said, >If you will love me and keep my word, I will show
myself to you, and you will be one thing with me and I with you. (John 14:2123) And we find similar words in other places from which we can see it is the
truth that by loves affection the soul becomes another himself. To make this
clearer still, I remember having heard from a certain servant of God [Catherine
referring to herself] that, when she was at prayer, lifted high in spirit, God would
not hide from her minds eye his love for his servants. No, he would reveal it,
saying among other things, >Open your minds eye and look within me, and you
will see the dignity and beauty of my reasoning creature [the human person]. But
beyond the beauty I have given the soul by creating her in my image and
likeness, look at those who are clothed in the wedding garment of charity,
adorned with many true virtues: They are united with me through love. So I say,
if you should ask me who they are, I would answer, said the gentle loving Word,
>that they are another me; for they have lost and drowned their own will and
have clothed themselves and united themselves and conformed themselves with
mine. It is true, then, that the soul is united to God through loves affection. p.
57: The fire within that soul blazed higher and she was beside herself as if
drunk, at once gloriously happy and grief-stricken. She was happy in her union
with God, wholly submerged in his mercy and savoring his vast goodness.... For
her union with God was more intimate than was the union between her soul and
her body. p. 85: You will all be made like him in joy and gladness;... your
whole bodies will be made like the body of the Word my Son. You will live in
him as you live in me, for he is one with me. Also p. 295 [God speaking to her]:
That soul was so perfectly united with me that her body was lifted up from the
earth, because in this unitive state I am telling you about, the union of the soul
with me through the impulse of love is more perfect than her union with her
body.
19.Cohn, p. 287.
20.Ibid., p. 288.
21.Ibid., p. 289.
55

22.Ibid., p. 290.
23. Ibid., p. 292.
24.Ibid., p. 293.
25.Ibid., p. 294.
26.Ibid., p. 295.
27. Ibid., p. 295.
28.Ibid., p. 297.
29.Ibid., p. 297.
30.Ibid., p. 298.
31.Ibid., p. 300.
32.Ibid., p. 302.
33.Ibid., p. 304.
34.Ibid., p. 305.
35.Ibid., p. 306.
36.Ibid., p. 309.
37.Ibid., p. 309.

56

Lecture 4
THE ENLIGHTENMENT, Part 1
Now we come to the period which stands between the Renaissance and modern
times which has a definite essence of its own. One of the classical works on this
period, this Paul Hazard, called The European Mind states: In this period a moral
clash took place in Europe. The interval between the Renaissance, of which it is a
lineal descendant, and the French Revolution for which it was forging the weapons,
constitutes an epoch which yields to none in historical importance. This is the
classical age of modern Europe.
The same author states: The classical mind, with the consciousness of its
strength, loves stability, nay, if it could, it would be stability. Now that the
Renaissance and the Reformation -- big adventures these! -- were over, the time had
come for a mental stocktaking, for an intellectual >retreat. Politics, religion, society,
art -- all had been rescued from the clutches of the ravening critics. Humanitys stormtossed barque had made port at last. Long might it stay there! Long! Nay let it stay
there forever! Life was now a regular, well-ordered affair. Why, then, go outside this
happy pale to risk encounters that might unsettle everything? The Great Beyond was
viewed with apprehension; it might contain some uncomfortable surprises. Nay, Time
itself they would have made stand still, could they have stayed its flight. At Versailles,
the visitor got the impression that the very waters had been arrested in their course,
caught and controlled as they were and sent skywards again, and yet again, as though
destined to do duty forever.
This period between the Renaissance and modern times is the first real attempt
to make a harmonious synthesis of all the new forces which had been let loose by
medieval and Renaissance and Reformation man. But the attempt was to do this
without losing a spiritual base of some kind of Christianity. That is how it is quite
different from what is being attempted today, to make a synthesis without Christianity,
or rather with Christianity much more watered-down. We will look at several aspects
of this harmony and find there also the reasons why it could not last.
The first aspect of this new classical age, this new harmony, is the dominance of
the scientific world-view which took the form of the world machine of Isaac
Newton. The age of Newton, the early Enlightenment -- he died in the 1720s, I
believe; his great book came out in 1690s -- when science and rational religion
seemed to agree that all was right with the world, and the arts flourished in a way they
were never again to flourish in the West. Before this time the West had known several
centuries of intellectual ferment and even chaos as the medieval Roman Catholic
synthesis collapsed and new forces made themselves felt and led to heated disputes
and bloody warfare. The religious wars for all practical purposes ended with the,
1648, the end of the Thirty Years War which actually devastated Germany and it
quite, practically destroyed her two centuries.
Protestantism had rebelled against the complexity and corruption in Roman
Catholicism; there was a renaissance of ancient pagan thought and art, a new
humanism had discovered the natural man and pushed the idea of God ever more into
the background and -- the most significant for the future -- science replaced theology
57

as the standard of knowledge. And the study of nature and its laws came to seem the
most important intellectual pursuit.
By the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, however, a certain
equilibrium and harmony was reached in Western thought. Christianity was not, after
all, overthrown by the new ideas, -- in the next lecture well see what kind of
Christianity this was -- but rather adapted itself to the new spirit. And the difficulties
and contradictions of modern naturalistic and rationalistic ideas had not yet made
themselves felt. Particularly in the most enlightened part of Western Europe -England, France and Germany -- it almost seemed that a golden age had come,
especially by contrast with the religious wars that had ravaged these countries up to
the middle of the seventeenth century. The enlightened man believed in God Whose
existence could be rationally demonstrated and in natural religion, was tolerant of the
beliefs of others and was convinced that everything in the world could be explained
by modern science, whose latest discoveries and advances he eagerly followed. The
world was seen to be a vast machine in perpetual motion whose every movement
could be described mathematically. It was one great harmonious universe ordered, not
hierarchically as in the Middle Ages or in Orthodox thought, but as a uniform
mathematical system. The classical work expressing these ideas, Newtons Principia
Mathematica, was greeted with universal acclaim when it appeared in 1687, showing
that the educated world at that time was thoroughly ripe for this new gospel.
Another classical work on the modern thought, Randalls Making of the
Modern Mind, discusses some of these elements that entered into this view of the
universe. The thirty years that had passed since Galileo published his Dialogue on
the Two Systems, that is, the heliocentric and the geocentric system, had seen an
enormous intellectual change. Where Gallileo was still arguing with the past -- and
we see that he almost got burned at the stake until he recanted his error and then said
under his breath, Nonetheless the earth still moves. -- Where Galileo was still
arguing with the past, Newton ignores old discussions and looking wholly to the
future calmly enunciates definitions, principles and proofs that have ever since formed
the basis of natural science. Galileo represents the assault; after a single generation
comes the victory. Newton himself made two outstanding discoveries: he found a
mathematical method which would describe mechanical motion and he applied it
universally. At last what Descartes had dreamed was true: men had arrived at a
complete mechanical interpretation of the world in exact mathematical deductive
terms. In thus placing the keystone in the arch of seventeenth-century science,
Newton properly stamped his name upon the picture of the universe that was to last
unchanged in its outlines until Darwin; he had completed the sketch of the Newtonian
world that was to remain through the eighteenth century as the fundamental scientific
verity.
The is the age, actually the end of this period is the age of the Encyclopedia in
France, a great undertaking particularly by Diderot, to bring the whole of knowledge
into one great book of many volumes. It should be understood first of all that this
very idea of the encyclopedia is something quite new, that is, the idea of bringing the
whole of knowledge into one place and arranging it, as in later encyclopedias, even
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alphabetically. So everything is sort of flattened out and placed just within the
compass of a certain number of pages, so that if you want to find out about anything,
you simply look up in the index or look up alphabetically and you find article on that
subject.
It should be said that in other nations which had somewhat of an idea of
universal knowledge such as China, there were also encyclopedias. But those
encyclopedias were rather different because there, there was still the hierarchical idea
and, for example, the great encyclopedias of China which date back quite, a thousand
years back or more, all these great encyclopedias were arranged so that the first
volume was always Heaven, then the Emperor, then the higher sciences, and
gradually progressed until it came down at the very end to those things which deal
with earth. Whereas [in] the new idea of encyclopedia, everything is flattened out.
And you can know one page of the encyclopedia and know nothing about the rest of it
but be an expert in that. Therefore this is a very fragmentary kind of knowledge. And
perhaps only the person who puts it together -- in fact, not one person puts it together,
many people do, so actually nobody -- knows the whole thing.
Diderot himself, although he underestimated mathematics, nonetheless his
idea of knowledge, the ideal of knowing everything is the same as that of all the rest
of the people of his age. He says: We are on the point of a great revolution in the
sciences. Judging by the inclination that the best minds seem to have for morals, for
belles-lettres, for natural history, and for experimental physics, I almost dare to
predict that before a hundred years are over there will not be three great
mathematicians in Europe.... [Science] will have erected the pillars of Hercules; men
will go no further; their works will last through the centuries to come like the
pyramids of Egypt, whose bulks, inscribed with hieroglyphics, awaken in us the
awful idea of the power and the resources of the men who built them. We see that
they had an idea that they are now going to have the final definition of nature, of
science, and collect all the knowledge there is. And soon the task will be finished.
In this new synthesis, the idea of nature actually replaces God as the central
idea, even though we will see that the idea of God was not thrown out until the very
end of this period. One of the French thinkers of the late eighteenth century, Holbach,
thus describes his worship of nature:
Man always deceives himself when he abandons experience to follow
imaginary systems. He is the work of Nature. He exists in nature. He is submitted to
her laws. He cannot deliver himself from them. It is in vain his mind would spring
forward beyond the visible world: an imperious necessity ever compels his return -for being formed by Nature, who is circumscribed by her laws, there exists nothing
beyond a great whole of which he forms a part, of which he experiences the influence.
The beings his imagination pictures as above Nature, or distinguished from her, are
always chimeras formed after that which he has already seen, but of which it is utterly
impossible he should ever form any correct idea, either as to the place they occupy, or
their manner of acting -- for him there is not, there can be nothing, out of that nature
which includes all beings... -- that is, outside of that nature which includes all beings.
The universe, that vast assemblage of everything that exists, presents only matter and
motion: the whole offers to our contemplation nothing but an immense, an
59

uninterrupted succession of causes and effects....


Nature, therefore, in its most extended signification, is the great whole which
results from the assemblage of matter under its various combinations, with that
contrariety of motions which the universe offers to our view.
Voltaire also says, when he describes a dialogue between nature and the
scientist. And nature says to the scientist: My poor son, shall I tell you the truth? I
have been given a name that does not suit me at all. I am called Nature, but I am
really Art -- the art of God, the deistic God at that period.
And one of Newtons disciples says: Natural science is subservient to purposes
of a higher kind, and is chiefly to be valued as it lays a sure foundation for Natural
Religion and Moral Philosophy; by leading us, in a satisfactory manner, to the
knowledge of the Author and Governor of the universe.... To study Nature is to study
into His workmanship; every new discovery opens up to us a part of his scheme....
Our views of Nature, however imperfect, serve to represent to us, in the most sensible
manner, that mighty power which prevails throughout, acting with a force and efficacy
that appears to suffer no diminution from the greatest distances of space or intervals of
time; and that wisdom which we see equally displayed in the exquisite structure and
just motions of the greatest and the subtlest parts. These, with perfect goodness, by
which they are evidently directed, constitute the supreme object of the speculations of
a philosopher; who, while he contemplates and admires so excellent a system, cannot
but be himself excited and animated to correspond with the general harmony of
Nature.
Again this Holbach says about nature: >O thou, cries this Nature to man,
>who, following the impulse I have given you, during your whole existence,
incessantly tend towards happiness, do not strive to resist my sovereign law. Labor to
your own felicity; partake without fear of the banquet which is spread before you,
with the most hearty welcome; you will find the means legibly written on your own
heart.... Dare, then, to affranchise yourself from the trammels of superstition, my selfconceited, pragmatic rival, who mistakes my rights; denounce those empty theories,
which are usurpers of my privileges; return under the dominion of my laws, which,
however severe, are mild in comparison with those of bigotry. It is in my empire alone
that true liberty reigns. Tyranny is unknown to its soil, slavery is forever banished
from its votaries; equity unceasingly watches over the rights of all my subjects,
maintains them in the possession of their just claims; benevolence, grafted upon
humanity, connects them by amicable bonds; truth enlightens them; never can
imposture blind him with his obscuring mists. Return, then, my child, to thy fostering
mothers arms! Deserter, retrace back thy wandering steps to Nature. She will console
thee for thine evils; she will drive from thy heart those appalling fears which
overwhelm thee.... Return to Nature, to humanity, to thyself!... Enjoy thyself, and
cause others also to enjoy those comforts, which I have placed with a liberal hand for
all the children of the earth, who all equally emanate from my bosom.... These
pleasures are freely permitted thee, if thou indulgest them with moderation, with that
discretion which I myself have fixed. Be happy, then, O man!
And again he says: O Nature, sovereign of all beings! and ye, her adorable
daughters, Virtue, Reason and Truth! remain forever our revered protectors! It is to
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you that belong the praises of the human race, to you appertains the homage of the
earth. Show us then, O Nature! that which man ought to do, in order to obtain the
happiness which Thou makest him desire. Virtue! animate him with thy beneficent
fire. Reason! conduct his uncertain steps through the paths of life. Truth! let thy torch
illumine his intellect, dissipate the darkness of his road. Unite, O assisting deities!
your powers, in order to submit the hearts of mankind to your dominion. Banish error
from our mind, wickedness from our hearts; confusion from our footsteps; cause
knowledge to extend its salubrious reign; goodness to occupy our souls; serenity to
occupy our bosoms.
See what a harmonious ideal this was: of nature ruling over everything, the
mysteries of nature being discovered, God still being in His heaven, although not
doing much, and scientific knowledge progressing over the whole world. The
naturalist Buffon even said that, in describing the early Babylonian astronomers,
That early people were very happy, because it was very scientific. The ideas of
scientific knowledge and happiness were bound up; in our own day, it seems to be the
opposite. And again he says, What enthusiasm is nobler than believing man capable
of knowing all the forces and discovering by his labors all the secrets of nature!
And so, the great philosophers of this period had only to discover the whole
system of nature, and so we have at this time the great metaphysical systems when
the philosopher could sit down in his easy chair before his desk, read all the results of
scientific research and the writings of previous philosophers and devise his own
system of what nature is. And so we have Spinoza sitting back and devising the idea
that there are two parallel systems, mind and matter; and both of these are God. And
Leibnitz comes up with the idea of the monad -- its a primary atom which is the
basis of everything else -- which explains both mind and matter. And Descartes
sitting back in his study and discovering that everything in nature proceeds from the
knowledge, intuition of clear and distinct ideas.
All these systems, of course, were rivaling each other and eventually overthrew
each other; other systems overthrew them. But the ideal of a real philosophy of nature
was never realized. But in this period this is still not completely realized. And science
was considered to be the kind of knowledge which would bring men to the truth.
This whole period is one of great optimism and is well summed up in the poet
Alexander Pope who regarded Newton as the ideal. A few words summed up the
spirit which people had, the feeling people had about the time they were living in and
the true philosophy which was now being devised from modern science:
All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body Nature is and God the soul;..
All Nature is but Art unknown to thee;
All chance, direction which thou canst not see;
All discord, harmony not understood;
All partial evil, universal good:
And, spite of pride, in erring reasons spite,
One truth is clear, whatever is, is right.
Nature and Natures laws lay hid in night:
God said, Let Newton be! and all was Light.
61

The Brave new world C Candide.


But in the Age of Reason >empiricism was employed by a Voltaire to destroy
revealed religion and absolute monarchy and Christian asceticism, and by the same
Voltaire >reason was used to erect a >rational theology and >natural rights and a
>natural law. Voltaire stated it definitely: >I understand by natural religion the
principles of morality common to the human race. It contained nothing else. This
creed was accepted, by orthodox and radicals together, as the essential content of the
religious tradition of Christianity.
With the problem of the moral governance of the world, the age-old problem
of evil, they [the rational theologians] did no better than their predecessors; here, too,
they could only have faith that a rational order must be a moral order. Some, like
Leibnitz, took pages to prove that this is the best of all possible worlds.... Popes
ringing >Whatever is, is right, sounded even to the eighteenth century suspiciously
like whistling to keep up ones courage. Others, like Voltaire, were too keenly aware
of the injustices wreaked by nature and man upon man not to be revolted by such a
faith; Voltaires famous tale, Candide, is one long ridicule of Leibnitz position.
Voltaires chief quarrel with patriotism is for the humanitarian reason that it
seems to require hatred of the rest of the human race. To love ones country, in the
common estimation, means to hate all foreign lands.... Hence against the follies of the
patriot Voltaire waged an unceasing war of ridicule. Every one remembers the satire
in the first chapters of Candide, where the hero is beguiled into the army of the King
of the Bulgarians during his war with the Abarians. >Nothing was so fine, so smart,
so brilliant, so well-ordered as the two armies....
The canons began mowing down about six thousand men on each side;...
Candide, trembling like a philosopher, hid as best he could during this heroic
butchery....Brains were scattered on the ground side by side with severed legs and
arms. Candide fled as fast as he could to another village;...Candide, walking over
palpitating limbs, or through ruins, finally got outside the theatre of war.
Dreams for unity of mankind, discovery, mysteries of nature, happiness in
earth, progress, golden age of art.
Faith in Progress
From the beginning of the century onward there rose one increasing paean
to progress through education. Locke, Helvetius, and Bentham laid the foundations
for this generous dream; all men, of whatever school, save only those who clung
like Malthus to the Christian doctrine of original sin, believed with all their ardent
natures in the perfectibility of the human race. At last mankind held in its own
hands the key to its destiny; it could make the future almost what it would. By
destroying the foolish errors of the past and returning to a rational cultivation of
nature, there were scarcely any limits to human wealth where it might not be
transcended.
It is difficult for us to realize how recent a thing is this faith in human
progress. The ancient world seems to have had no conception of it; Greeks and
Romans looked back rather to a golden age from which man had degenerated. The
Middle Ages, of course, could brook no such thought. The Renaissance, which
actually accomplished so much, could not imagine that man could ever rise again to
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the level of glorious antiquity; its thoughts were all in the past. Only with the growth
of science in the seventeenth century could men dare to cherish such an over-weaning
ambition. To Fontanelle, whose long life stretched from the days of Descartes to those
of the Encyclopedia, belongs the chief credit for instilling the eighteenth-century faith
in progress. He was a popularizer of Cartesian science, and it was from science and
reason that he hoped that Europe would not only equal, but far surpass antiquity. All
men, he proclaimed, are of the same stuff: we are like Plato and Homer, and we have a
vastly richer store of accumulated experience than they. Men reverence age for its
wisdom and experience; it is we moderns who really represent the age of the world,
and the ancients who lived in its youth. A scientist today knows ten times as much as a
scientist living under Augustus. So long as men continue to accumulate knowledge,
progress will be as inevitable as the growth of a tree, nor is there any reason to look
for its cessation.
This opinion may strike us as almost platitudinous, but to Fontenelles
contemporaries it seemed the rankest of heresies. He found himself involved in a
furious battle, and all France took sides in the conflict between the Ancients and the
Moderns.... But of the ultimate outcome there could be no question; all the scientists,
from Descartes down, despised the ancients and carried the day for the faith in
progress. By the middle of the next century it was clearly recognized that only in
literature could the ancient world hope to hold its own; and with the rejection of the
classic taste by the rising romantic school, the ancients even here fought a losing
battle.
It remained for Condorcet to sum up the hopes and the confidence of the
age.
At the end of the eighteenth century theres one great philosopher of progress,
Condorcet, who wrote a history of the progress of the human spirit in which he said:
>The result of my work will be to show by reasoning and by facts, that there is no
limit set to the perfecting of the powers of man; as human perfectibility is in reality
indefinite; that the progress of this perfectibility, henceforth independent of any power
that might wish to stop it, has no other limit than the duration of the globe upon which
nature has placed us. Doubtless this progress can proceed at a pace more or less rapid,
but it will never go backward; at least, so long as the earth occupies the same place in
the system of the universe, and as the general laws of this system do not produce upon
the globe a general destruction, or changes which will no longer permit the human
race to preserve itself, to employ these same powers, and to find the same resources.
He believed that the principles of Enlightenment will spread over the entire
earth; liberty and equality, a real economic and social and intellectual equality, will be
continually strengthened; peace will reign on earth. >War will come to be considered
the greatest of pestilences and the greatest of crimes. Nay, more; a better organization
of knowledge, and an intelligent improvement in the quality of the human organism
itself, will lead to the disappearance of disease and an indefinite prolongation of
human life, but to the actual attainment of the perfect conditions of human wellbeing.
And again he says, What a picture of the human race, freed from its chains,
removed from the empire of chance as from that of the enemies of its progress, and
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advancing with the firm and sure step on the pathway of truth, of virtue, and of
happiness, is presented to the philosopher to console him for the errors, the crimes,
and the injustices with which the earth is still soiled and of which he is often the
victim! It is in contemplating this vision that he receives the reward of his efforts for
the progress of reason, for the defense of liberty. He dares then to link them to the
eternal chain of human destiny; it is there that he finds the true recompense of virtue,
the pleasure of having created a lasting good, which fate cannot destroy by any dread
compensation, bringing back prejudice and slavery. This contemplation is for him an
asylum whither the memory of his persecutors cannot pursue him; where, living in
thought with man established in his rights as in the dignity of his nature, he forgets
him whom avarice, fear or envy torment and corrupt; it is there that he truly exists
with his fellows, in a paradise which his reason has created, and which his love for
humanity enriches with the purest of joys.
Another historian of this time wrote a history of philosophy, 1796, J. G. Buhle,
who says, We are now approaching the most recent period of the history of
philosophy, which is the most remarkable and brilliant period of philosophy as well as
of the sciences and of the arts and of the civilization of humanity in general. The seed
which had been planted in the immediately preceding centuries began to bloom in the
eighteenth. Of no century can it be said with so much truth as of the eighteenth that it
utilized the achievements of its predecessors to bring humanity to a greater physical,
intellectual and moral perfection. It has reached a height which, considering the
limitations of human nature and the course of our past experience, we should be
surprised to see the genius of future generations maintain.
And theres an interesting message which was placed in the steeple knob of the
church in Gotha, in Germany, in 1784 which was supposed to be read by posterity.
This is the message, from 1784: Our age occupies the happiest period of the
eighteenth century. Emperors, kings, princes humanely descend from their dreaded
heights, despise pomp and splendor, become the fathers, friends and confidants of
their people. Religion rends its priestly garb and appears in its divine essence.
Enlightenment makes great strides. Thousands of our brothers and sisters, who
formerly lived in sanctified inactivity, meaning monks, are given back to the state.
Sectarian hatred and persecution for conscience sake are vanishing. Love of man and
freedom of thought are gaining the supremacy. The arts and sciences are flourishing,
and our gaze is penetrating deeply into the workshop of nature. Handicraftsmen as
well as artists are reaching perfection, useful knowledge is growing among all classes.
Here you have a faithful description of our times. Do not haughtily look down upon us
if you are higher and see farther than we; recognize rather from the picture which we
have drawn how bravely and energetically we labored to raise you to the position
which you now hold and to support you in it. Do the same for your descendants and
be happy.
When we look at these views of nature, art, virtue, the idea, we see, remember
the idea that there is such a possibility of man being happy on this earth, of
knowledge being perfect, of the arts flourishing and of there being a harmonious, in
fact, it even says here, paradise on earth.
This is the foundation for what has been happening in the world for the last two
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centuries. All the ideas by which people are living today, most of them, come from
this period. And if now this early optimism seems quite naive, we still have to
understand why it is naive, why it does not correspond to the truth. So we will have to
look at the inside of all this positive philosophy to see what were the germs which
existed already at this time which led to the negative, to the overthrowing of this
optimistic philosophy.
But before doing that, well have to look at one other very interesting thing.
Although this seems -- if one thinks it through
-- to be very superficial, to be a kind of mockery of Christianity; still its very
true that at this period there was a great flourishing of the arts. In fact, many people
would say that the arts in the West never again came back to the standard of this
period; particularly in music, it is indeed true that this is a golden age of modern
Western music.
And so well have to see, well have to look at the positive side to see why there
can be a positive flourishing of the arts like that which seems quite profound also
when the philosophy is based upon something which seems quite superficial. And that
will be the subject of the next lecture.
Lecture 5
The Enlightenment, Part 2
The brave new world we described in the last chapter, and the faith in science
and nature, has another aspect to it, which is the religious view of this age. And in all
these philosophers and writers we will examine, we see something which is already
becoming, which is already familiar to us. Because many of the arguments they use
we ourselves have heard. This is already, you can say, the wave-length or the universe
of discourse in which we also talk. Their arguments were a little bit different, they
were more naive than the enlightened scientist today; but still theyre talking basically
the same kind of language, trying to prove things by science or reason, and so forth.
This age of the Newtonian system is also the age of the religion of reason. One
can say that in the age of Renaissance and Reformation, Christianity was either
neglected or it was boiled down to its essentials -- simplified as the Protestants tried to
do -- but they still, those who believed in Christianity were still keeping somehow
onto the past. Already in Thomas Aquinas and Francis of Assisi we saw that the
Christianity was becoming quite different, but still the basic content of the faith
outwardly was quite similar to traditional Christianity, just that they were changing
the whole approach to it, which would lead later on to a change in the content also.
But in this new age, the Age of Enlightenment, we see that the very content of
the faith now is being changed, and quite new religious ideas appear. The reason for
this is that religion is now subjected to the same standard which science is: the
outward study of the outward world, that is, the standard of reason. And thus it
continues the process which began with Scholasticism when reason was placed above
faith and tradition. This was the time when men dreamed of a religion of
reasonableness. We will quote a number of the writers of this time. They all have just
a slightly different approach, but in the end have very similar philosophy.
For example, Diderot, the great encyclopedist, talks about the getting rid of
prejudices in religion. In one of his works he has a speaker tell about the importance
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of keeping people in bondage to certain prejudices for public good. To this Diderot
replies: What prejudices? If a man once admits the existence of a God, the reality of
moral good and evil, the immorality of the soul, future rewards and punishments, what
need has he of prejudices? Supposing him initiated in all the mysteries of
transubstantiation, consubstantiation, the Trinity, hypostatical union, predestination,
incarnation and the rest, will he be any the better citizen?
So obviously the new standard being applied, is a very outward standard.
Reasonableness and all these things which seem complicated by Orthodox tradition,
the basic doctrines of the faith, now come to seem very, too complicated. It doesntt
help us to live any better, according to this view; and its completely irrational. And
notice that most of these people retain a few basic faiths, that is, articles of faith like
the existence of good and evil, of God, and afterlife.
Enlightenment in England
In this period the leadership in the expressing the spirit of the age passes over
to England. Because England was the place where after 1689 there was the Edict of
Toleration where all religions and all the Christian sects are allowed to exist except
for Catholicism and Unitarianism; that is, various kinds of Protestantism,
Anglicanism became legal.
We see this combination of broad-mindedness, so-called, with continued
intoleration, because the Catholics had a very difficult time in England for a long time
right up to the nineteenth century; and even today the broad-minded Anglican
persuasion is extremely narrow in some respects -- so much so that when there was an
Englishman in our church who wanted to be baptized and become a priest, he had to
go to France where Vladika John ordained him because it was not allowed in England
for an Anglican cleric to become Orthodox.
And even today our English mission is very much restricted. The Anglicans
very much are against any kind of converts coming to Orthodoxy and there are even
laws about clergymen becoming Orthodox. So theres a combination of a narrow,
bureaucratic mentality with freedom. You can believe whatever you want as long as
youre either in the Anglican Church or just dont care about religion. But theyre
very much against any other kind of strong belief having freedom.
And most of the people well examine today are English writers who, although
they of course are not profound philosophers, are in the English pragmatic school; but
their ideas were very much in accord with the spirit of the times and they spread over
to France and Germany, and especially in France they had even very radical followers.
The English usually held back from the most radical consequences because theyre
very practical. You can keep the past and still be a free-thinker without going all the
way.
There was already in the seventeenth century a Lord Herbert of Cherbury, who
died in 1648, who was one of the leading theologians, so-called, of this new
naturalistic religion. And he also, like many people in the Renaissance, had heard a
supernatural voice which sanctioned his natural religion. According to him there are
five articles of faith which all Christians can agree upon regardless of their sect or
their theological differences. So you see hes going to make out of reason -- sort of
synthesize -- the essence of Christianity. And these five articles of faith which
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everyone agrees on are, namely, that God exists, that He is to be worshipped, that He
is worshipped chiefly by piety and virtue, that men are called to repentance, and that
there is an after-life of rewards and punishments. He thought that these were
reasonable, of course, not on the basis of reason but because the people he knew and
the ordinary thinking people of that time still believed, they still kept this much of
Christianity. But after him there would be much more radical views.
There is another thinker, John Toland, an Anglican clergyman -- I believe he
was clergyman -- who died in 1722, who wrote a book called, Christianity Not
Mysterious, wherein he wanted to explain how Christianity is really very reasonable;
you dont have to have any superstition to believe in Christianity. And he said that:
There is nothing in the Gospel contrary to reason, nor above it: and that no Christian
doctrine can properly be called a mystery. So everything is perfectly understandable.
A good man of common sense will understand what Christianity is all about.
Another one of the same period, Matthew Tindal who died in 1733, wrote
another book on the same kind of topic called
Christianity as Old as the Creation. And according to him, the Gospel is
simply the law of nature. And any revelation above this is really quite useless.
Christianity is reduced simply to what is natural.
There were at this time two schools of thought in England, that is, the
conservatists who were called the supernaturalists and the radicals who became the
deists. But they all had in common this faith that religion is nothing but what is
natural. The supernaturalists thought that revelation did add something to natural
religion, although not very much. It was thought it was used as a kind of stamp of
genuineness like saying 24-carat gold. Derive your belief from reason and nature
and then revelation comes along and says, This is true. Thats about as much as it
did. And these were the conservatives.
For example, we have as an example of a conservative, John Locke, the
philosopher, who said: >In all things of this kind, religion, there is little need or use
of revelation, God having furnished us with natural and surer means to arrive at a
knowledge of them. For whatsoever truth we come to a clearer discovery of from the
knowledge and contemplation of our own ideas, will always be more certain to us than
those which are conveyed to us by traditional revelation. Its obviously the idea here
that revelation comes from without as though it is forced on you, whereas the thing
which comes from inside you, which really persuades you, are rational arguments.
In the New Testament this John Locke found that there are only really two
conditions set down for salvation. These two, faith and repentance, that is,
believing Jesus to be the Messiah, and a good life, are the indispensable conditions
of the new covenant to be performed by all those who would obtain to eternal life.
So all we have to do is believe and lead a righteous life. Already Orthodoxy is quite
reduced, quite blotted out. All that is left is a very narrow Protestantism. He wrote a
book typically called, The Reasonableness of Christianity.
So Christianity became, even with the conservatives, really just a rational
philosophical system which appealed to common sense. And those who didnt like
this, they didnt have any rational arguments apparently; and so the main rebellions
against this rationalism were the lower-class movements of Pietism, Methodism and
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so forth which based religion on feeling.


And among the intellectuals, it seems that only Paschal saw through all this
and was very profound in his observations about this religion of reason. He said, if
you want to prove religion by reason, you had better not take Christianity, because
its too full of mysteries. You can more easily prove the truth of Islam because it has
fewer mysteries.
But the movement of reason, once they got started, you cant stop it wherever
you please. The Scholastics thought that they would accept the whole content of
Christianity and simply make it logical. Those after them rejected many of the small
points which they were arguing about and said there was a certain essence you could
be retain. Then the essence grew smaller and smaller and finally they wanted to do
away with mysteries altogether. And now we shall see that the idea of religion at all
begins to be attacked.
Deism
First of all, there was a movement of Deism which is perhaps the most typical
one of this whole eighteenth century. The idea of Deism is that God exists, but Hes
quite irrelevant. That is, He creates the world and steps back. And from that time on it
has nothing to do with God. Newton himself believed that He couldntt calculate
quite everything correctly, as, for instance, the paths of comets and so forth. And he
had an idea that the universe was like a great watch which God made, stepped back
and once in a while He has to step in and correct it, kind of wind it up again. But later
astronomers said no, this is not true. And there actually is a unified theory you can
have which explains everything including comets and all irregular kinds of
movements. And so God is simply necessary only at the beginning. God creates and
thats all. And God becomes extremely vague. Thus miracles and prophecy are
beginning to be called into question; and many writers already begin to say theyre
just superstition. In this the French became more radical than the English.
The example of Diderot who says, -- although he did not publish it, he said in a
private letter; it was still not early enough to publishing such a thing -- The Christian
religion is to my mind the most absurd and atrocious in its dogmas; the most
unintelligible, the most metaphysical, metaphysical now becomes a bad word, >the
most intertwisted and obscure, and consequently the most subject to divisions, sects,
schisms and heresies; the most mischievous for the public tranquility, the
most dangerous to sovereigns by its hierarchic order, its persecutions, its
disciplines; the most flat, the most dreary, the most Gothic, which is also a bad word
-- Middle Ages, and the most gloomy in its ceremonies; the most puerile and
unsociable in its morality, considered not in what is common to it with universal
morality, but in what is peculiarly its own, and constitutes it evangelical, apostolic and
Christian morality, which is the most intolerant of all. Lutheranism, freed from some
absurdities, is preferable to Catholicism; Protestantism (Calvinism) to Lutheranism,
Socinianism to Protestantism, Deism, with temples and ceremonies, to Socinianism.
But he still keeps some religion, as you notice; he wants Deism with temples and
ceremonies because its good for the people.
Voltaire has the same kind of spirit and even said, Ecrasez linfame -- blot
out the infamous thing, Christianity. Every man of sense, every good man, ought to
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hold the Christian sect in horror. The great name of Deist, which is not sufficiently
revered, is the only name one ought to take. The only gospel one ought to read is the
great book of Nature, written by the hand of God and sealed with His seal. The only
religion that ought to be professed is the religion of worshipping God and being a
good man. It is as impossible that this pure and eternal religion should produce evil as
it is that the Christian fanaticism should not produce it.
Against Miracles
The last defense of people who were defending supernatural religion on
anything except a purely emotional basis, was the existence of miracles. And there
was one writer in England who took upon himself to finally demolish the whole idea
of miracles. And thats David Hume, a Scotsman, whom we will discuss later on as
very important to our contemporary whole philosophy. And its interesting, this
textbook on modern thought, which was written in the >20s by a typical enlightened
man [Randall], whos very precise about his quotes, analyzing the ideas, but he
himself is very much a product of all these ideas. And so for him, Hume is very much
the standard. He says, In his famous Essay on Miracles, in 1748, he proved so
conclusively that intelligent men have rarely questioned it since, that a miracle, in the
sense of a supernatural event as a sign of the divinity of its worker, cannot possibly be
established. Even could it be shown that the events recorded did actually take place,
that they were supernatural, and that they sufficed to establish a religion, it is still
impossible to demonstrate.
And he quotes Hume on this who says: No testimony is sufficient to establish
a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more
miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavors to establish.... A miracle can never be
proved so as to be the foundation of a system of religion.... Suppose all the historians
who treated England should agree [that Queen Elizabeth died and after being buried a
month returned to her throne and governed England again] {brackets are Randalls}. I
should not doubt of her pretended death, and of those other public circumstances that
followed it: I should only assert it to have been pretended, and that it neither was, nor
possibly could be real.... I would still reply, that the knavery and folly of men are such
common phenomena, that I should rather believe the most extraordinary events to
arise from their concurrence, than admit of so signal a violation of the laws of nature.
But should this miracle be ascribed to any new system of religion; men, in all ages,
have been so much imposed upon by ridiculous stories of that kind, that this very
circumstance would be a full proof of a cheat, and sufficient, with all men of sense,
not only to make them reject the fact, but even reject it without farther examination....
As the violations of truth are more common in the testimony concerning religious
miracles, than in that concerning any other matter of fact;... this must make us form a
general resolution, never to lend any attention to it, with whatever specious pretense it
may be covered.
And according to this man, this is already conclusive proof that miracles do
not exist or at least cannot be proved. But, of course, its evident that this man had a
very strong faith not to believe in miracles. And well have to examine later on
what, where he gets his faith and how it is that this seems so evident to him.
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This is the kind of thinking which everyone was doing in those days, all the
people who were writing books. Some were defending a little more religion, some a
little less; but they were all tending in this direction towards the getting rid of
everything supernatural. And this whole mentality so took hold of men that they could
not help but think in these terms. Well see later on that Hume also applied this same
standard to science with results which were absolutely devastating.
Attacking and Defending Religion
But soon this very religion of reasonableness in which the only thing left is that
theres a God and men should be good -- even this began to be attacked, because
reason is not content as long as it has something more to attack. And now the attack
begins, not against just the supernatural, but against religion altogether. And here,
perhaps to our surprise, we find that two of the great defenders of religion are
precisely the Voltaire and Diderot, that is, the new idea of religion.
Voltaire argues at a time when he was still holding onto his Deism and many
French thinkers already had become materialists and atheists. And he said: When I
see a watch whose hands mark the hours, I conclude that an intelligent being has
arranged the springs of this machine so that its hands will mark the hours. Thus, when
I see the springs of the human body, I conclude that an intelligent being has arranged
these organs to receive and nourished for nine months in the womb; that the eyes are
given to see, the hands to grasp, etc. So this is called the argument from design, a
proof of the existence of God.
And a second argument is that there must be a final cause of everything.
Voltaire says: I exist, hence something exists. If something exists, then something
must have existed from all eternity; for whatever is, either exists through itself or has
received its being from something else. Already sounds like Thomas Aquinas. If
through itself, it exists of necessity, it has always existed of necessity, it is God; if it
has received its being from something else, and that something from a third, that
from which the last has received its being must of necessity be God....
Intelligence is not essential to matter, for a rock or grain do not think. Whence
then have the particles of matter which think and feel receive sensation and thought?
it cannot be from themselves, since they think in spite of themselves; it cannot be
from matter in general, since thought and sensation do not belong to the essence of
matter: hence they must have received these gifts from the hands of a Supreme Being,
intelligent, infinite and the original cause of all beings.
You see hes quite clinging on to the old fashioned way of things. And he says
finally, In the opinion that there is a God, there are difficulties; but in the contrary
opinion there are absurdities. And later on good thinking men with common sense
will begin to say that, no, theres no absurdity in thinking that the world evolved itself
and so forth. Well see this in a later lecture on the whole idea of evolution.
And Voltaire even believed in the immortality of the soul. On the immortality
of the soul Voltaire says, Without wanting to deceive men, it can be said we have as
much reason to believe in as to deny the immortality of the being that thinks. And of
course, here he is not depending upon science; hes speaking on the old beliefs, which
the more radical thinkers were already disproving, getting rid of.
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But already with the materialists and the atheists in this period just before the
French Revolution, we begin to come to some of the reasons why the whole
Enlightenment world-view was destroyed. But the basic outlook of Enlightenment
was
optimism, that its possible to understand what the world was all about. There
are no mysteries left. Even Christianity is reasonable.
Art and Music
Now one note on the art and music of this period.
In reading the philosophers and theologians of this period, one finds that they
are very much dated, that is, out of date. You read them and you see that: how can
people think like that?
Theyre so naive. By reason alone youre going to prove the existence of the
soul, or the existence of the afterlife. Its obvious they are believing this on some other
basis and not understanding that they believe this out of faith, because on reason
alone, what can you believe, if youre left to reason alone?
But the music of this period and the art is still very much alive. And you can
hear a concert of this music, Baroque music, and it feels, you are very much attuned to
it. In fact, it is just as fresh now as it was then. And interestingly enough, this music is
quite profound. And it is not, as music later became, more and more subject to
romantic feelings and sentimentality; its quite sober and has very much feeling in it,
very fresh, very alive, also of course very regular. Both the art, the painting was
subject to certain classical rules of painting, and the music also after polyphony had
developed out of the Middle Ages, out of the later Middle Ages. Certain rules of
counterpoint were adopted which later composers would think were too restrictive.
But out of these -- this sort of a definite -- this classical system of musical laws and
artistic laws, a very living art came.
One man even said this was one of the pinnacles of human achievement.
Whether one thinks of Handel or Bach, or Rameau, David, the English composers
Purcell, Burke, or the Italians Corelli, Vivaldi -- theyre all on a extremely high level.
Of course, in Germany also there are others -- Schtz also. They wrote both religious
music: the Passions, various kinds of Passions, and cantatas and secular music.
This music of course is not spiritual music. Even in the religious music you can
see that it is not the same as the Orthodox church services which arouses one to
contrition, which has a definite function in ones spiritual life. This is what the
Russians call duchevni -- that is, music of the soul, the lower part of the soul not the
higher part, which is called the spirit. Thus, this does not have the supreme worth that
true Christian art does, whether the icon or the church music, which leads the soul to
heaven. This is more, you sit back and you contemplate, relax and enjoy, but kind of
thinking about it -- although theres some extremely pious music. Bach wrote one
piece called I Rejoice on My Death about a person ready to die. And its obvious he
had deep religious feelings. But this music also is not something which should be just
thrown out because it is very, extremely refined.
And those who are in the world, since they are going to be subjected to art and
music of some kind, cant help it. You go into a supermarket and youre subjected to
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music. You go out in the street and youre subjected to the art -- the buildings, the
billboards, everything in the streets is the art of our times. And therefore since one has
to be subjected to that, its better to be subjected to good, refined art than the
barbarism which exists today.
Later on well discuss something about the falling away from this classical age
of art, and how you can detect a definite progress the same way that reason was to
destroy this faith in the deistic god and the universe that makes sense. The same way
the new currents that came in were to destroy the whole classical idea of art and
music.
But one might also ask a very interesting question of where does the spirit
behind this art come from. Because if one reads
these philosophers and theologians one sees that their thought is extremely
superficial; that is, some kind of deeper dimension seems to be missing. Theyre lost,
and the further one goes on and the more logical they get, the more one feels theyve
lost the whole point of what religion is. And obviously this music does not express the
philosophy of Deism.
And the reason why the music can be so profound is obviously because it lived
on the basis of the capital of the past, that is, the Christian capital of the past which is
still not exhausted completely. And even these, even Voltaire who still believes in
God and the afterlife is still living on the basis of the past. There was still left some
kind of belief, some kind of traditional values. And music and art still have contact
with this, these sources, although of course theyve come far away from the
traditional Orthodox art.
Later well discuss how this modern art fell away from this classic age the same
way as modern philosophy did. And now before beginning the last series of lectures
on the modern world which we know, forces which shaped it, we should ask a few
questions on how is it that this world-view of the Enlightenment collapsed -- because
it collapsed very soon. Its philosophy and its theology seems now incredibly naive
and narrow. And its art is a kind of golden age which is impossible to go back to. You
can play over again these great masterpieces but you cant, theres no one composing
now like that.
And there are several reasons and they all perhaps overlap each other. One is
the very thing which Kireyevsky talked about: that reason, once it is exalted above
faith and tradition, continues and produces its own destruction. The reason which first
produced Scholasticism then produced the Reformation because you were criticizing
the religion itself; and finally -- first its the Reformation is a criticism of the Medieval
Catholicism and then the criticism of Protestantism produces the atheist agnostic
philosophers of the nineteenth century. And after Kireyevsky well see that it
produced the actual suicide of reason.
Once one accepts reason as the standard of truth, you have to follow it all the
way. And that is why, as we are examining these religious thinkers, we see that one
generation holds on to more of the past and thinks that is rational. The next generation
subjects that to criticism and holds on to less, but thinks theres still something left.
The next generation destroys all that, and thinks theres very little left. And that
generation resembles[overturns?] the next one. As long as you believe that reason is
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capable of giving you truth, you have no argument against it. And thats why there
was no one; even the ones who were defending Christianity were arguing on the same
rationalistic terms.
Its the same thing that Dr. [Alexander] Kalimiros talks about: that between
Orthodoxy and the West there is this gulf because in the West they are all talking in
the same language, the Protestants, Catholics, sectarians, atheists; its all the same
language. Theyre all used to taking reason as the standard, even when they do not
take it all the way, because theyre scared to go too far, most people; still, they have
this rationalistic atmosphere in common. And in that atmosphere you cannot escape.
You have to admit that reason is capable of truth; and, therefore, when your enemy
has a very good argument, you have to grant that thats true. If its true, he explains
away your faith. But in Orthodoxy, reason has an entirely different function which
well talk about later.
And so well see also in one of the next lectures that the history of our world in
the last 200 years is a continuation of a kind of dialectical process whereby reason
overthrows everything in the past and finally destroys itself. That is, reason must
destroy itself once it is given the license to be the standard of truth. Thats why this
Enlightenment Age seems now so naive.
Another reason which acted for the overthrowing of this world-view is that
the loss of the whole spiritual tradition and spiritual experience which we can see
by the very fact that reason is made the standard -- which means they lost the
spiritual tradition -- this loss made men actually hopeless, helpless before the
negative criticism of reason, which you see in Voltaire, being very pathetic in his
defense of some small part of the old tradition. And also made them unaware of
non-rational influences which actually act upon the rationalists themselves. Later
on people will become more aware of this, and thats when reason actually destroys
itself, in our own time.
And also they did not see when demonic powers intervened because they
dont believe anymore in demons. Theres no -- these people werentt even arguing
for the existence of demons anymore.
So this is why we discussed earlier some of the undercurrents of chiliasm and
the mystical view of science. Its obvious that there are many forces under the surface,
irrational forces which dominate ones behavior. And a person who thinks hes very
rational, very reasonable, who believes only in reason, obviously has a kind of
mystical faith in this reason. And most of them at this time were totally unaware of
that.
Again, this view of theirs was so one-sided. Once you start reasoning, you do
away with all kinds of things which you used to believe in, or would wish to believe
in. And you go a lot farther than you would feel like going. And after a while, its
natural that people will say, Wait, wasnt there something then, too? And so this
very one-sided rationalism led to a revolt against it, which is on the religious level.
There was this underground, this Pietism and Methodism, and now -- beginning also
at the end of the period -- occultism and the so-called Romantic revolt in which
everything Medieval all of a sudden becomes very attractive because it seems much
richer than this narrow Enlightenment philosophy.
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The experimental ideal in science also had a function similar to that of reason
because it is never satisfied. It always wants to test its conclusions and come to new
conclusions. So scientific ideals, these theories are constantly changing and this
helped overthrow this scientific synthesis of the time of Newton.
Progress
Again, the idea of progress which we saw in this period in the earlier part of the
period, the idea of the ancient was kept very much alive because of the Renaissance,
that the ancients were the ones who were for us the true standard. If we can only get
back to them and away from the Middle Ages and superstition, we will be fine. But
then is when the sciences begin to become the dominant form of thought, the scientific
world-view. People begin to see that anyone living today has more scientific
knowledge than someone living in antiquity. Now science for the first time is being
pursued systematically, experiments and everything else.
And so the people defending the ancients finally have to say that only in
literature do the ancients hold the supremacy. And then with the outpouring of great
classical literature of this period, and music and art, even there they say that, no, the
moderns are also superior to the ancients because now we have a superior philosophy;
and art also is superior. And out of this battle between the ancient and the moderns
came the development for the first time of the idea of progress which is actually quite
a religious idea which well examine later.
But the very idea of progress -- that the present is building upon the past, the
past and improving it and future generations will improve upon us, that there will be
an unlimited progress and man will constantly go ahead -- this obviously destroys
the idea that theres one standard, the classical standard from the past whether
Christian or pagan or what. Therefore everything becomes a [living seed?] at first,
but everything becomes quite relevant. And one exists actually just for the sake of
the future people who are going to improve upon one. And where, after a
while when a person begins to realize that this is a movement of, philosophy of
constant change, constant movement, then the soul begins to be upset. Its a sign that
theres no peace, no security. In the nineteenth century this leads to the evolutionary
world-view; its a quite distinct world-view, in fact, quite as powerful as the
Newtonian world-view, but quite different.
Finally when these rationalistic ideas, people sitting in their cabinets and
thinking out logically what is true, what is false, what can be retained from the past,
and what has to be rejected -- it is one thing for a philosopher in his cabinet, but when
you go outside and say now lets change society on the basis of these ideas, something
quite different occurs. And you can see that actually a great disaster occurs.
And that brings us to the subject of the next lecture which will be the
Revolution. The French Revolution and the whole revolutionary movement of our
times, which is the application of rationalistic ideas to the changing of society, the
changing of the whole outward order of life. And here we will begin also to examine
more the source of some of these rationalistic ideas, where they came from, why
people came to believe that reason is the one standard of truth.
This whole ideal of the Enlightenment Age, the idea of Deism was, of course,
the atmosphere from which modern Masonry arose. The idea of the Grand Architect
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God, God Who is somewhere remote in the heavens and doesntt touch us. But the
whole subject of Masonry will come up next lecture on Revolution because it was the
power which was very responsible for producing the Revolution, that is, the deistic
idea. And theres very important reasons why Deism -- although it seems quite
outmoded and disproved -- lasted on in the Masonic lodges.
Because the whole of the modern world-view is not atheistic, and is not
agnostic; it believes in God. Its only a temporary period where agnosticism and
atheism are replacing Christianity for a certain purpose -- so as to come back and
worship the true God according to the revolutionary philosophy, which the Masons
still believe today: the Grand Architect is new God.
Lecture 6
THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
Now after examining the ideas which have been replacing one another in
modern times from the Middle Ages and forming the modern mentality, we come to
our own day, that is, the history of the last two hundred years. Because everything
which came before the French Revolution has a different spirit; what comes after has
a new spirit. The period before 1789 was called the Old Regime, and the period
after that is the Revolutionary Age which is the same now as it was in the 1790s.
This will take a number of lectures because now we will continue both the
historical description of the modern mentality, but at the same time we will now do
something else. At the very same time we are doing this, we will stop and analyze
what is the underlying unity of these ideas. That is, what is the basic philosophy; in
fact, what is the basic theology of the revolutionary mind?
And what do we mean by saying the revolutionary theology? Just as
Orthodox Christianity has its theology, a whole dogmatic structure, which, when one
believes it, enters into and changes every aspect of ones life; so too the modern
mentality, which has achieved its final form in the Revolution, has a whole belief
system which affects the whole of ones life and molds history.
The idea that modern history is a chance play of conflicting forces is totally
unrealistic. There is a definite pattern, a definite philosophy or theology that is being
worked out, so much so that astute prophets, so-called, among the modernists have
been able to predict in advance how man is going to change in accordance with this
theology. We can cite, for example, a little later on we will give more and more
examples. We can cite, however, here Nietzsche who says, I think in The Will to
Power, What I am describing here is the history of the twentieth century, the
triumph of Nihilism, because when the masses get the ideas which I am now
proclaiming, there will be a revolution such as the world has never seen. And indeed
the ideas filter down from the philosophers to the masses and then tremendous
changes are caused.
Or we could quote another one, who was a crazy one also, Heinrich Heine, a
Jew from Germany, who was very much akin to all this revolutionary spirit. And he
says a few things which show that hes in tune with whats coming up. He wrote a
history of
Religion and Philosophy in Germany in which he quite accurately saw what
was behind Luther, what was behind Kant, Hegel and these modern philosophers.
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This was in 1834 already he wrote this. He says, Mark this, ye proud men of action,
ye are nothing but unconscious hodmen, workers, of the men of thought who, often
in humblest stillness, have appointed you your inevitable task. Maximilian
Robespierre was merely the hand of Jean Jacques Rousseau, the bloody hand that
drew from the womb of time the body whose soul Rousseau had created.
In another place he even makes a prophecy about his own country. He tells the
French that the Germans also are going to make a revolution. He says, The old stone
gods will then arise from the forgotten ruins and wipe from their eyes the dust of
centuries, and Thor with his giant hammer will arise again, and he will shatter the
Gothic cathedrals.... Smile not at the fantasy who one foresees in the region of reality
the same outburst of revolution that has taken place in the region of intellect, because
Germany was indeed the avant guard of philosophy. The thought precedes the deed,
as the lightning the thunder. German thunder is of true German character: it is not
very nimble, but rumbles along somewhat slowly. But come it will, and when ye hear
a crashing such as never before has been heard in the worlds history, then know that
at last the German thunderbolt has fallen. At this commotion the eagles will drop dead
from the skies and the lions in the farthest wastes of Africa will bite their tails and
creep into their royal lairs. There will be played in Germany a drama compared to
which the French Revolution will seem but an innocent idyll. At present, it is true,
everything is tolerably quiet; and though here and there some few men create a little
stir, do not imagine these are to be the real actors in the piece. They are only little curs
chasing one another around the empty arena, barking and snapping at one another, till
the appointed hour when the troop of gladiators appear to fight for Life and death.
And the hour will come. As on the steps of an amphitheatre, the nations will
group themselves around Germany to witness the terrible combat. Later on well see
what happens in Germany when there was indeed great revolutionary storm released.
No one author or history book or historical event contains the whole of the
philosophy or theology which produced modern history, revolutionary history. And
therefore, we shall have to examine many different historical events, many different
writers, philosophers and try to grasp the underlying thread of this whole philosophy.
And in fact it is exactly like [approaching] Holy Fathers. Theres no one Holy
Father you can read to get the whole teaching of Christianity, because many Holy
Fathers express different points of view, different aspects. And the whole of the
Fathers contain the wisdom of the tradition. And modern historians would like to say
that one contradicts the other and so forth, but if, once you enter into the Orthodox
spirit you see that one rather compensates for the other. And theres a marvelous
harmony in all the writings of Holy Fathers.
In the same way, theres the same kind of harmony in all these modern thinkers,
the ones who are really in contact with the spirit of the times. You can read one and
get one aspect; read another and you a get different aspect. You can see in the French
Revolution one aspect, in Napoleon a different aspect. When you put them all
together, you see theres a marvelous harmony to it; it ail makes sense. But this has
not really been done before -- such an analysis -- and therefore well have to look at
very many different aspects.
With the revolution we must examine two aspects of the activity of the modern
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mentality: we call these the philosophers and the activists -- the philosophers who
have the ideas and the activists who produce the historical events. Or as one early
historian of the French Revolution said, the one is called the corrupting
philosophers, the ones who think the thoughts; the second are called the massacring
philosophers, the ones who go out and massacre the people.
This is the age, this modern age, this revolutionary age, when modern
philosophy produces the most profound effects in every day life. Before, philosophy
was largely a matter of the upper classes, sort of idle people who had the time to
think. And from now on, everyone is drawn into this, the modern philosophy because
it changes the whole of life. These two aspects, the philosophy and activism, are not
entirely separate but they intertwine. And so we have to understand first of all how
they are related to each other.
First of all, the philosophy inspires the act. Without modern philosophy there
would have been no revolution. In fact Napoleon even said, Without Jean Jacques
Rousseau I would never have existed. Secondly, philosophy is not something which
comes first and they act afterwards; the philosophy continues while the act is going
on. And we can say that it consolidates what the act has gained and keeps pushing on
the activists to do more. The revolutionary acts are often the work of a small
organized group, but they succeed because they have the support of the common
mind, that is, the spirit of the times, which is willing to excuse any kind of excesses.
Without this support of the common mentality of the times, the revolution, all
revolutions would collapse as soon as the plotters are killed off. Even today we see
very clearly that Communism continues to exist and to have half the world precisely
because the West shares the same basic ideas and, therefore, is willing to excuse the
crimes of Communism.
In looking at the acts of the revolutions, it is not possible for us to untangle
exactly everything that happens and see exactly who inspired each separate act, which
secret society is at work, where there are charlatans, where there is somebody who is
trying to make a name for himself. The secret societies themselves, who were very
much involved in all of this, make a point of hiding themselves. And therefore, theres
no way we can untangle everything and say -- as some people like to point out: they
can spot every place where the Communist conspiracy is going on. Its much deeper
than that. That is a kind of John Birch mentality [in] which someone is seen with
somebody who is a friend of a Communist, [therefore,] that means that the plot is right
there -- and [thats] not necessarily [the case] at all. The only thing we can do is look
much deeper and examine the ideas which are expressed, and the acts which come out,
and see how significant they are and how faithful they are to the modern philosophy -the revolutionary philosophy -- and which ones are in accordance with the spirit of the
times and are going to produce results in the future.
Therefore, first of all, we will try to trace the progress of modern thought in the
revolution. And by revolution I mean, of course, the whole new concept of revolution,
which is a universal thing, which begins with the French Revolution. We will try to
show the unity of the whole revolutionary movement and analyze its theological
philosophy and its psychology. This will give us an outward, unified view of the
revolutionary age. And then in a later lecture well turn to the inward, so-called
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spiritual striving of modern man which gives the inspiration for the final goal of the
whole revolution.
In looking at the French Revolution, which is the place where we begin because
this is where modern ideas have their first great outburst, we will have to have an
approach which is different from most histories of the French Revolution. You can
read...
[historians explaining its events]
...as though the revolution was made by well-meaning people and unfortunately
there were sometimes some hot heads who got mixed up with it; and historical
circumstances changed, outward dangers caused changes of plans, and the whole
thing just didnt come off the way it was supposed to be. And the idealists were
somehow frustrated and have to come back and start again. And this, if we look at the
actual history of events, is a very naive view. Its not that way at all. This is not to say
that every single event is brought about by a conspiracy, because there are many other
motives -- there are many people who want themselves to take over, to kill off
somebody else -- and many byways in which the revolution gets sidetracked and then
comes back to the main purpose. And so we have to look, as I said, to see what is the
essence of the various changes which come about, and to follow the thread which
occurs as a constant thread throughout all the revolutionary events.
In examining the revolution there is one book which is very great textbook of
this. It is written by a person who was in Paris during the Revolution, during the
1790s and wrote the book about 1797, I think. And this edition we have is 18I8. Its
called
Memoirs to Serve for a History of Jacobinism by the Abb Barruel. B-A-R-RU-E-L. And hes very valuable because he was right there when this was all very
fresh. And he was faced by the same kind of thinkers we have today who say that the
whole thing was a noble experiment which did not come off. And he made great
research into many texts -- and well see what kind of texts they were -- and shows
that theres a single thread which goes through the Revolution; its not some kind of
chance thing. And many things which now people and historians might say are
accidental results, he says, No, they planned it that way. And he has the texts to
back it up. Ill read part of the introduction to his book which shows his whole
approach. He says: Under the disastrous name of Jacobins, who are the radicals who
immediately took over the Revolution, Under the disastrous name of Jacobins, a sect
appeared in the first days of the French Revolution, teaching that men are all equal
and free; in the name of this equality and this disorganizing liberty, trampling
underfoot the altars and the thrones; in the name of this same equality and of this
same Liberty, calling all the nations to the disasters of the rebellion and to the horrors
of anarchy.
From the first moments of its appearance, this sect found itself three hundred
thousand members strong, supported by two million arms which it could set in
motion throughout the whole extent of France, weapons of torches, pikes, hatchets,
and of all the thunder-bolts of the revolution.
It is under the auspices, it is by the movements, the impulsion, the influence
and the action of this sect that were committed all the great atrocities which have
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inundated a vast empire by the blood of its bishops [pontiffs], its priests, its nobles, its
wealthy, its citizens of every rank, every age, every sex. It is by these very men that
King Louis XVI, the Queen his spouse, his sister Princess Elizabeth, battered by
outrages and ignominy during a long captivity, were solemnly assassinated on the
scaffold, and all the Sovereigns of the world were proudly menaced by the same fate.
It is by these men that the French Revolution has become the scourge of Europe, the
terror of powers vainly united to put an end to the progress of these revolutionary
armies, more numerous and more devastating than the inundation of the Vandals.
Who therefore are these men who come out, so to speak, from the bowels of
the earth, with their dogmas and their thunder-bolts, with all their projects, all their
means, and all the resolution of their ferocity. What is this devouring sect?...
What might be their school and who might be their masters? What are their
subsequent plans? This French Revolution brought to an end, will it finally cease to
torment the earth, to assassinate the kings and to fanaticize the nations?
We have perceived them trying to persuade people that the whole
revolutionary and conspiratorial sect, before this revolution itself, is only an
imaginary sect. For those people, all the evils of France and all the terrors of Europe
succeed one another, are connected by the simple concurrence of unforeseen
circumstances, impossible to foresee. It seems to them useless to seek out the
conspiracies and agents who had plotted the conspiracies and directed the chain of
events. The ones [actors] who rule today do not know the plans of those who have
preceded them; and those who will come after them will likewise be ignorant of the
plans of their predecessors.
Preoccupied with such a false opinion, filled with such a dangerous prejudice,
these pretended observers will readily say to the various nations: let the French
Revolution alarm you no longer. It is a volcano which has opened itself, without
anyone being able to know the hot-bed where it was prepared; but it will wear itself
out, with its fuel, on the counter-forces which have seen it arise. You announce that -due to causes unknown in your climates, due to elements less likely to ferment, due to
laws more analogous to your character, the public fortune being more secure -- the
fate of France could not become yours; And so you do not be afraid. [and if you must
one day participate in it, in vain will you seek to avoid it. The coincidence and the
fatality of circumstances will sweep you away against your will. That which you
might have done to escape it might perhaps be called the plague, and will only hasten
your misfortune.]
I have in my hands the memoir of an ex-minister, of Louis XVI, who was
consulted about the causes of this Revolution, and in particular concerning the
principal conspirators whom it would be good to know, and about the plan of the
conspiracy. I have read how he pronounces that it would be useless to search out
either men or an association of men who could have planned the ruin of the throne
and of the altar, or formed any plan which could be called a conspiracy. Unfortunate
Monarch! When the very ones who should have been watching out for you are
unaware of even the name and even the existence of your enemies and those of your
people, is it very astonishing that you and your people would be the victims of it!...
...We will tell them: in this French Revolution, everything including its most
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horrible crimes, all has been foreseen, planned, contrived, resolved, decreed: all has
been the result of the most profound infamy, since all has been prepared, brought
about by the men who alone possessed the thread of the conspiracies long ago plotted
in the secret societies, and who have known how to choose and hasten the moments
propitious to their plots.
If, in these daily events, there exist certain circumstances which seem to be
less the result of plots, there is nonetheless one cause of them from the secret agents
who would both invoke these events, who would know how to profit from these
circumstances or even to call them into existence, and who would direct them all
towards the principal object. All these circumstances could well serve as a pretext and
occasion, but the great cause of the Revolution, of its great crimes, of its great
atrocities, would always be independent; of these incidental circumstances. And
this great cause exists all within the conspiracies plotted long ago.
[In uncovering the object and the extent of these conspiracies, I ought to
dispel an error even more dangerous.] It exists in one fatal delusion among men who
would not have difficulty agreeing that this French Revolution has been planned; but
they are not afraid to add that in the intention of its original authors it was bound to
lead only to the happiness and the regeneration of the Empires; that if great
misfortunes have come to interfere with their plans, it is because they came across
great obstacles; and besides, that one does not regenerate a great people without
great agitations; but that, after all, these storms are not eternal: that the waves will
subside and the calm will return; that then the astonished nations, rather than having
to fear the French Revolution, instead will imitate it by holding fast to its principles.
This error is above all what the leaders of the Jacobins strive all the more to
confirm. This explanation was given as the first implements of the rebellion to that
whole band of Constitutionalists, who still regard their decrees about the rights of
man as a masterpiece of public law, and who still do not lose the hope of one day
seeing the whole universe regenerated by this political rhapsody. This explanation
was given to all those men whose stupid credulity, with all their good intentions, sees
only a necessary misfortune in the horrors of the 10th of August and in the massacre
of the 2nd of September, which we will discuss, It is given finally to all those men
who even today are consoled by three or four hundred thousand assassinations, by
those millions of victims which the war, the famine, the guillotine, the revolutionary
tribulations have cost France; [to] all those men who yet today are consoled by this
immense depopulation, under the pretext that all these horrors will eventually bring
about a better order of things.
Against this false hope, against all these supposed intentions of the
revolutionary sect, I set forth its true plans and its conspiracies for realizing them. [I
will speak, because it must be properly told at last, because all the proofs of it have
been obtained:] The French Revolution has been what it had to be in the spirit of the
sect. All the evil which it has done, it had to do; all its crimes and all its atrocities were
but a necessary result of its principles and its systems. I will say even more, far from
preparing in the distance a happy future, the French Revolution is only one attempt of
the forces of this sect; its conspiracies extend over the entire universe. If among our
readers there are those who conclude: the sect of the Jacobins must be eliminated or
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certainly the whole society may well perish, and that to our present governments
everywhere without exception will come the convulsions, overturnings, massacres,
and the infernal anarchy of France; I would reply, Yes, one must expect this universal
disaster or totally abolish [crush] the sect....
That which the Jacobins have shattered before a first time, they will shatter
yet again. They will pursue in the darkness the great object of their conspiracies; and
by new disasters will teach the nations that the whole French Revolution was only the
beginning of the universal dissolution which this sect plans.
One has seen the delirium, the rage and the ferocity of the legions of the
sect; one recognizes them readily enough as the instruments of all the crimes, of all
the devastations, of all the atrocities of the French Revolution; but one does not
know enough what masters, what school, what vows, and what successively savage
plots there are.
The result of these investigations and of all the evidence which I have
gathered, above all in the archives of the Jacobins and of their first masters, has been
that their sect and their plots are in themselves but the joining together, the coalition
of a triple sect, of a triple conspiracy in which, long before the Revolution, was
plotted and is yet being plotted, the overthrow of the altar, that of the throne and
finally that of the whole civil society. It was already planned. The three points he has
in mind are the philosophers, the Masons and the Illuminati.
You have believed the Revolution to be finished in France, but the revolution
in France is but a first attempt of the Jacobins; and the vows, the oaths, and the plots
of Jacobinism extend to England, Germany, Italy, to all nations as it does to the
French nation.
Voltaire
Now we will try to examine these ideas which before the French Revolution
prepared the way for the Revolution. First of all, there is that thing which we already
examined briefly in the previous lectures, that is, the philosophy of the Enlightenment.
He finds the most significant philosopher of the Enlightenment to be Voltaire, in this
respect, because when he was still a young man in England, he made a vow that he
would devote his life to the destruction of Christianity, and from him comes this
famous phrase, Ecrasez linfame to exterminate the infamous thing, that is, religion
of Christ and replace it, of course, with his religion which is Deism.
He and his followers, as I said, are the ones that this Barruel calls the
philosophes corrupteurs, the corrupting philosophers. And the Jacobins are the
philosophes massaceurs, the massacring philosophers, the ones who were still have
ideas; but they go out and chop peoples heads off. He finds also most significant
Diderot and DAlembert, among the other French Deists philosophers, and Frederick
II, king of Prussia, who frequently met with Voltaire. And we see at that time, as later
on with Bolshevism, that the wildest revolutionaries have the ability to persuade
princes and high rulers to go with them in their plans.
We will later on say something about the Jews, but right now well just mention
that its interesting that both DAlembert and Voltaire, in their hatred for Christianity,
tried to persuade several princes to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem in order to prove
that Christianity was false, the same way that Julian the Apostate tried to do it. He
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even wrote a Letter to Catherine II, Please build the temple in Jerusalem. But
Catherine was rather smarter than that.
Many of the rulers, the small dukes in Germany, and the nobles in France
were very much intrigued by these ideas; even the very wildest revolutionary ones
were doing away with Christianity. And thats, of course, one big reason why the
Revolution had such support.
But Catherine II in Russia, although she was German and so forth, was much
smarter than the other rulers. And she even told Voltaire that she couldntt go along
with all his ideas, although she was a very good friend of his; and that if his ideas
were going to be put into practice, she would no longer be able to have her salon and
invite him to give talks. And later on when the French Revolution broke out, of
course, she arrested all the Masons; and that was the end of revolution for her.
Rousseau
A second great stream -- the first one is Voltaire and the Deist philosophers who
are rationalists, that is, they reduce everything to their limit of their understanding -- a
second great current of philosophy, which was very influential in the Revolution, was
that of Jean Jacques Rousseau, who is the philosopher of feeling. He said of himself
that he had a romantic spirit. He was filled with great feelings. He had always found
somebody who would support him in his love affairs and everything else. He would
go in the woods, some great prince would support him, and he would ramble in the
woods, and his heart would swell up with great feelings, and he would recognize God
everywhere, and that was his religion. He lived in his emotions, in the realm of the
vague and the indefinite. But in the same way as Voltaire reduced everything to his
mind, Rousseau reduced everything to his feelings. And these two things -- of course,
very strong in man, two sides of our nature -- both entered into the revolutionary
spirit. And the religion of feeling is, of course, much more accessible to the common
people than the religion of mind.
He had a philosophy of nature which is extremely influential on the Revolution.
It is with him that we get the idea of back to nature, away with artificiality and
civilization. Although he was not absolutely saying we should discard civilization, he
even said once that since we are corrupt anyway, we might as well be a little educated
than uneducated. But he contrasted the artificiality of civilized life with the simplicity
of what he thought was primitive life. In fact, he said that the first time that someone
said this is mine, that was the origin of our corruption. He was even against the idea
of private property.
He wrote a book Emile which describes the education of a young person, in
which the person is supposed to be taught almost nothing at all, and nature is
supposed to come out in him. And the teacher just removes obstacles to the
development of nature in the child. There is no external authority. No religion is
given; when he grows up, its time for him to choose his own religion. He will have no
prejudices or habits or religion. And he even said that until the child is twelve years,
he should not be able to tell the difference between his right hand and his Left hand so
he will not be corrupted by knowledge.
And Voltaire, when he read this book, wrote to Rousseau that reading this book
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makes him feel like walking on all fours, but as it is more than sixty years since I
have done this, it is impossible for me to resume the habit. Nonetheless they were
profoundly in agreement: one is destroying everything except his mind, the other
everything except his feeling. So even [though they are] opposed in their basic
outlook, since Rousseau also didnt like this complicated rationalism, still their effect
is even more powerful because it takes two strands and applies them to the
revolutionary activists: they will be inspired by both of these.
In his politics he developed the idea that sovereignty comes not from God, not
from the upper classes, but it comes from the people. Of course, this is the big idea of
Revolution. But, as well see later on, his very philosophy already justifies the strange
fact that those inspired by this idea end up by establishing tyranny, because he said
that the general will is superior to individual will. He thought once kings were
overthrown that everyone would spontaneously be happy and have the same will; but
if they dont, then the masses are to dictate to the individual.
He [Rousseau] was the one who said, Man is born free and is everywhere in
chains. Of course, the basic idea of the revolution adds up to Marx. He said...his
religion is one of feeling. He was a deist like Voltaire, but his deism is not one thats
thought out; its just his own feeling about God. And he also believed in immortality.
But all this is just his subjective feeling. All dogmas are subjected to his heart. His
prayer is not any kind of petition because he did not believe that any God answers
prayers; rather it was a outburst of enthusiasm, of joy in nature which became a hymn
of praise to the Great Being, that is, the great God of Deism.
In his ideal commonwealth he said that no intolerant religion should be allowed,
that is, Christianity, of course. There was to be a profession of faith which is purely
civil and its articles are to be social sentiments, without which it is impossible to be a
good citizen or a faithful subject -- that is, a new religion which is rather autocratic.
Those who do not accept this religion, since the whole society must have one religion,
must leave the country. And if one accepts the religion and then acts contrary to it, he
must be executed.
So these are the two philosophical strands which enter into the makeup of the
revolutionary mind: one, the idea that I by myself can think through a system whereby
society will be more harmoniously ordered; and the other that my feelings will guide
me to the truth. And in neither one is there any safeguard: the idea of revelation, of
tradition, of God is out. The only God left is a very vague God, the God of Deism.
And we Orthodox Christians know that one who removes revelation, tradition,
the Church, and accepts whatever his mind tells him, or whatever his feelings dictate
to him, opens the way for what? -- for satan to enter, because satan enters by means
of thoughts, by means of feelings. And well see that in these revolutionary outbursts
you cannot explain what happens except by the fact that satan is directing things.
Hes inspiring these people with all kinds of plots, all kinds of ideas.
Secret Societies
But to these two philosophical elements there is added now a third thing, which
is the secret societies. Of course, the secret societies have an underground existence
throughout the period before the Enlightenment, but it is especially in the eighteenth
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century that there is born a new sect, or at least a reorganized [one], and that is
Freemasonry, which was born in England in 1717, and very quickly spread to France
and America and the rest of Europe. Later on we shall see that Freemasonry in
England and in America became something rather different from Freemasonry on the
continent, especially in the Catholic countries. And the reason for this is not so
difficult to understand.
The English mentality which gave the world already the philosophy of deism is
a so-called conservative mentality; that is, its capable of believing just about
anything and being quite content, and not pushing its beliefs to any logical
conclusions. Just as later on well see David Hume destroys the whole of the world,
and then sits back and enjoys himself, and drinks his coffee and smokes his pipe, not
seeing that hes given ideas which will drive people to despair.
In the same way, English Masonry was born out of the spirit of tolerance and
seeking to find some kind of a religious belief which is neither Catholic nor
Protestant, but which will bind together all men of goodwill. And they were satisfied
with that. They had a deistic religion, the Grand Architect. There were no religious
differences discussed in the Lodge -- you have to put religion behind. And for the
Englishman and later for the Americans this was considered to be sufficient. If you
believe in God, you can go to your Protestant church or Anglican church and be
happy.
b. Illuminati: (Adam) Weischaupt, born 1748; Jesuit training, but hated
them, turned to French philosophers, Manicheans, and occult doctrines. Quotes,
Webster 8-10.Very similar philosophy to Rousseau, but added secret
revolutionary society, May 1, 1776, a combination of freemasonry and Jesuitry.:
The very ideas of Masonry, the ideas of a brotherhood of men -- which is
something above Catholicism or Protestantism -- when they went to the continent they
inflamed mens minds and made them quite radical.
There is in particular one kind of Freemasonry, which apparently was evolved
separately. And this is what is called Illuminism. This was the creature of one man,
whose name is Adam Weishaupt. He was born in 1748, went through a Jesuit
education, and later on came to hate the Jesuits, turned to the French philosophers, to
Manichaean philosophy, and apparently had some kind of occult initiation in one of
the many occult sects.
[Let us] examine here a few of his views. He says, in agreement with Rousseau,
that civilization is a great mistake, and to this all the inequalities of human life were
due. He says, Man is fallen from the condition of Liberty and Equality, the State of
Pure Nature. He is under subordination and civil bondage arising from the vices of
Man. This is the Fall and Original Sin. Notice he uses the Christian term here,
original sin. Later on weIl see how this is all an imitation of Christianity.
According to him, all the arts and sciences must be abolished. He says, >Do
the common sciences afford real enlightenment, real human happiness? Or are they
not rather children of necessity, the complicated needs of a state contrary to Nature,
the inventions of vain and empty brains?... Why, he asks, >should it be impossible
to the human race to attain its highest perfection, the capacity for governing itself?
For this reason, he taught that not only should kings and nobles be abolished but
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even a Republic should not be tolerated, and the people should be taught to do without
any controlling authority, any law, or any civil code. In order to make this system a
success it would be necessary only to inculcate in Man >a just and steady morality,
and since Weishaupt professed to share Rousseaus belief in the inherent goodness of
human nature this would not be difficult, and society might then >go on peaceably in a
state of perfect Liberty and Equality. For since the only real obstacle to human
perfection lay in the restraints imposed on Man by artificial conditions of life, the
removal of these must inevitably restore him to his primitive virtue. >Man is not bad
except as he is made so by arbitrary morality. He is bad because Religion, the State,
and bad examples pervert him. It was necessary, therefore, to root out from his mind
all ideas of a Hereafter, all fear of retribution for evil deeds, and to substitute for these
superstitions the religion of Reason. >When at least Reason becomes the religion of
men, then will the problem be solved.
After deliverance from the bondage of religion, the loosening of all social ties
must follow. Both family and national life must cease to exist so as to >make of the
human race one good and happy family. The origins of patriotism and the love of
kindred are thus described by Weishaupt in the directions given to his Hierophants for
the instruction of initiates:
At the moment when men united themselves into nations they ceased to
recognize themselves under a common name. Nationalism or National Love took
the place of universal love. With the division of the globe and its countries
benevolence restricted itself behind boundaries that it was never again to
transgress. Then it became a virtue to spread out at the expense of those who did
not happen to be under our dominion. Then in order to attain this goal, it became
permissible to despise foreigners, and to deceive and to offend them. This virtue
was called Patriotism. That man was called a Patriot, who, whilst just towards his
own people, was unjust to others, who blinded himself to the merits of foreigners
and took for perfections the vices of his own country. So one sees that Patriotism
gave birth to Localism, to the family spirit, and finally to Egoism. Thus the origin
of states or governments of civil society was the seed of discord and Patriotism
found its punishment in itself.... Diminish, do away with this love of country, and
men will once more learn to know and love each other as men, there will be no
more partiality, the ties between hearts will unroll and extend.
In these words, the purest expression of Internationalism as it is expounded
today, Weishaupt displayed an ignorance of primeval conditions of life as profound as
that of Rousseau. The idea of Paleolithic man, whose skeleton is usually exhumed
with a flint instrument or other weapon of warfare grasped in its hand, passing his
existence in a state of >universal love, is simply ludicrous. It was not, however, in his
diatribes against civilization that Weishaupt surpassed Rousseau, but in the plan he
devised for overthrowing it. Rousseau had merely paved the way for revolution;
Weishaupt constructed the actual machinery of revolution itself.
It was on the 1st of May 1776 that Weishaupts five years of meditation
resulted in his founding the secret society that he named, after bygone philosophical
systems, the Illuminati.
Web. 11-12,13. Abolition of religion, absolute obedience,
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The grades of the Order were a combination of the grades of Freemasonry and
the degrees belonging to the Jesuits. Weishaupt, as has already been said, detested the
Jesuits, but recognizing the efficiency of their methods in acquiring influence over the
minds of their disciples, he conceived the idea of adopting their system to his own
purpose. >He admired, says the Abb Barruel, >the institutions of the founders of
this Order, he admired above all those laws, that regime of the Jesuits, which under
one head made so many men dispersed all over the universe tend towards the same
object; he felt that one might imitate their methods whilst proposing to himself views
diametrically opposed. He said to himself: What all these men have done for altars
and empires, why should I not do against altars and empires? By the attraction of
mysteries, of legends, of adepts, why should not I destroy in the dark what they erect
in the light of day?
It was in the training of adepts that Weishaupt showed his profound subtlety.
Proselytes were not to be admitted at once to the secret aims of Illuminism, but
initiated step by step into the higher mysteries -- and the greatest caution was to be
exercised not to reveal to the novice doctrines that might be likely to revolt him. For
this purpose the initiators must acquire the habit of >talking backwards and forwards
so as not to commit themselves. >One must speak, Weishaupt explained to the
Superiors of the Order, >sometimes in one way, sometimes in another, so that our real
purpose should remain impenetrable to our inferiors.
Thus to certain novices (the novices ecossais) the Illuminati must profess to
disapprove of revolutions, and demonstrate the advantages of proceeding by peaceful
methods towards the attainment of world domination.
The passage then goes on to say vaguely that this is not the case and that the
Order only demands of the initiate the fulfillment of his obligations. Nor must
antagonism to religion be admitted; on the contrary, Christ was to be represented as
the first author of Illuminism, whose secret mission was to restore to men the original
liberty and equality they had lost in the Fall. >No one, the novice should be told,
>paved so sure a way for liberty as our Grand Master Jesus of Nazareth, and if Christ
exhorted his disciples to despise riches it was in order to prepare the world for that
community of goods that should do away with property.
Web. 13-14. Novices initiated step by step into the higher mysteries,
It was not, then, until his admission to the higher grades that the adept was
initiated into the real intentions of Illuminism with regard to religion. When he
reached the grade of Illuminated Major or Minor, of Scotch Knight, Epopte, or
Priest he was told the whole secret of the Order in a discourse by the Initiator:
Remember that from the first invitations which we have given you in order to
attract you to us, we commenced by telling you that in the projects of our Order there
did not enter any designs against religion. You remember that such an assurance was
given you when you were admitted into the ranks of our novices, and that it was
repeated when you entered into our Minerval Academy.... You remember with what
art, with what simulated respect we have spoken to you of Christ and of his gospel;
but in the grades of greater Illuminism, of Scotch Knight, and of Epopte or Priest, how
we have to know to form from Christs gospel that of our reason, and from its religion
that of nature, and from religion, reason, morality and Nature, to make the religion
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and morality of the rights of man, of equality and of liberty.... We have had many
prejudices to overcome in you before being able to persuade you that the pretended
religion of Christ was nothing else than the work of priests, of imposture and of
tyranny. If it be so with that religion so much proclaimed and admired, what are we to
think of other religions? Understand then that they have all the same fictions for their
origin, that they are all equally founded on lying, error, chimera and imposture.
Behold our secret.... If in order to destroy all Christianity, all religion, we have
pretended to have the sole true religion, remember that the end justifies the means,
and that the wise ought to take all the means to do good which the wicked take to do
evil. Those which we have taken to deliver you, those which we have taken to deliver
one day the human race from all religion, are nothing else than a pious fraud which we
reserve to unveil one day in the grade of Magus or Philosopher Illuminated.
But all this was unknown to the novice, whose confidence being won by the
simulation of religion was enjoined to strict obedience. Amongst the questions put to
him were the following:
If you came to discover anything wrong or unjust to be done under the Order
what line would you take?
Will you and can you regard the good of the Order as your own good?
Will you give to our Society the right of life and death?
Do you bind yourself to absolute and unreserved obedience? And do you
know the force of this undertaking?
By way of warning as to the consequences of betraying the Order a forcible
illustration was included in the ceremony of initiation. Taking a naked sword from the
table, the Initiator held the point against the heart of the novice with these words:
If you are only a traitor and perjurer learn that all our brothers are called upon
to arm themselves against you. Do not hope to escape or to find a place of safety.
Wherever you are, shame, remorse, and the rage of our brothers will pursue you and
torment you to the innermost recesses of your entrails.
It will thus be seen that the Liberty vaunted by the leaders of the Illuminati
had no existence, and that iron discipline was in reality the watchword of the Order.
A great point impressed upon the adepts -- of which we shall see the
importance later -- was that they should not be known as Illuminati; this rule was
particularly enforced in the case of those described as >enrollers....
Women were to be used and fools with money
Women were also to be enlisted as Illuminati by being given >hints of
emancipation. >Through women, wrote Weishaupt, >one
may often work the best in the world; to insinuate ourselves with these and to
win them over should be one of our cleverest studies. More or less they can all be led
towards change by vanity, curiosity, sensuality, and inclination. From this can one
draw much profit for the good cause. This sex has a large part of the world in its
hands. The female adepts were then to be divided into two classes, each with its own
secret, the first to consist of virtuous women who would give an air of respectability
to the Order, the second of >light women, >who would help to satisfy those brothers
who have a penchant for pleasure. But the present utility of both classes would
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consist in providing funds for the society. Fools with money, whether men or women,
were to be particularly welcomed. >These good people, wrote Spartacus to Ajax and
Cato, >swell our numbers and fill our money-box; set yourselves to work; these
gentlemen must be made to nibble at the bait.... But let us beware of telling them our
secrets, this sort of people must always be made to believe that the grade they have
reached is the last.
15-16. System of universal spying
Espionage formed a large part of Weishaupts program. The adepts known as
the >Insinuating Brothers were enjoined to assume the role of >observers and
>reporters; >every person shall be made a spy on another and on all around him;
>friends, relations, enemies, those who are indifferent -- all without exception shall be
the object of his inquiries; he shall attempt to discover their strong side and their
weak, their passions, their prejudices, their connections, above all, their actions -- in a
word, the most detailed information about them. All this is to be entered on tablets
that the Insinuant carries with him, and from which he shall draw up reports to be sent
in twice a month to his Superiors, so that the Order may know which are the people in
each town and village to whom it can look for support.
16. Anti-science and civilization in general: sciences are the complicated
needs of a state contrary to nature, the inventions of vain and empty brains.
Sent apostles C Barruel IV, 9
From the first year of his [Weishaupts] Illuminism, in his atrocious impiety,
aping the God of Christianity, he conceived in these terms the orders he would give
to Massenhausen to propagate his new gospel: >Did not Jesus Christ send forth his
Apostles to preach throughout the universe? You who are my Peter, why would I
allow you to be idle and quiet at home? Go then and preach.
Martinism also important: 1775 St. Martin called Liberty, Equality,
Fraternity the sacred ternary.
In the book of Saint-Martin, Des erreurs et de la vrit, published in 1775,
the formula >Liberty, Equality and Fraternity is referred to as le ternaire sacr.
The Martinistes, frequently referred to in French contemporary records as the
Illumins, were in reality dreamers and fanatics and must not be confounded with the
Order of the Illunimati of Bavaria that came into existence twenty-two years later. It
is by this >terrible and formidable sect that the gigantic plan of World Revolution
was worked out under the leadership of the man whom Louis Blanc has truly
described as >the profoundest conspirator that has ever existed.[Weishaupt]
c. 1782, Congress of Wilhelmsbod, Illumism and Freemasonry united to
pursue common end, claiming 3 million members. Quote on tragic secret
[Webster] p.19.
But it was not until the Congrs de Wilhelmsbad that the alliance between
Illuminism and Freemasonry was finally sealed. This assembly, of which the
importance to the subsequent history of the world has never been appreciated by
historians, met for the first time on the 16th of July 1782, and included representatives
of all the Secret Societies -- Martinistes as well as Freemasons and Illuminati -which now numbered no less than three million members all over the world. Amongst
these different orders the Illuminati of Bavaria alone had formulated a definite plan of
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campaign, and it was they who henceforward took the lead. What passed at this
terrible Congress will never be known to the outside world, for even those men who
had been drawn unwittingly into the movement, and now heard for the first time the
real designs of the leaders, were under oath to reveal nothing. One such honest
Freemason, the Comte de Virieu, a member of a Martiniste lodge at Lyons, returning
from the Congrs de Wilhelmsbad could not conceal his alarm, and when questioned
on the >tragic secrets he had brought back with him, replied: >I will not confide them
to you. I can only tell you that all this is very much more serious than you think. The
conspiracy which is being woven is so well thought out that it will be, so to speak,
impossible for the Monarchy and the Church to escape from it. From this time
onwards,... >the Comte de Virieu could only speak of Freemasonry with horror.
d. 1784, Elector of Bavaria prohibited all secret societies, 1785 Illuminati
arrested and tried and their documents publicized -- recipes for bombs,
description of the goal. [Webster] 25.
Public opinion had now, however, become thoroughly roused on the subject of
the society, and the Elector of Bavaria, informed of the danger to the State constituted
by its adepts, who were said to have declared that >the Illuminati must in time rule the
world, published an edict forbidding all secret societies. In April of the following
year, 1785, four other Illuminati,.. disgusted by the tyranny of Weishaupt, were
summoned before a Court of Inquiry to give an account of the doctrines and methods
of the sect. The evidence of these men...left no further room for doubt as to the
diabolical nature of Illuminism. >All religion, they declared, >all love of country and
loyalty to sovereigns, were to be annihilated, a favorite maxim of the Order being:
Tous les rois et tous les prtres
Sont des fripons et des tratres.
Moreover, every effort was to be made to create discord not only between
princes and their subjects but between ministers and their secretaries, and even
between parents and children, whilst suicide was to be encouraged by inculcating in
mens minds the idea that the act of killing oneself afforded a certain voluptuous
pleasure. Espionage was to be extended even to the post by placing adepts in the post
offices who possessed the art of opening letters and closing them again without fear
of detection. Robison, who studied all the evidence of the four professors, thus sums
up the plan of Weishaupt as revealed by them:
The Order of the Illuminati adjured Christianity and advocated sensual
pleasures. >In the lodges death was declared an eternal sleep; patriotism and loyalty
were called narrow-minded prejudices and incompatible with universal benevolence;
further, >they accounted all princes usurpers and tyrants, and all privileged orders as
their abettors... they meant to abolish the laws which protected property accumulated
by long-continued and successful industry; and to prevent for the future any such
accumulation. They intended to establish universal liberty and equality, the
imprescriptible rights of man...and as necessary preparations for all this they intended
to root out all religion and ordinary morality, and even to break the bonds of domestic
life, by destroying the veneration for marriage vows, and by taking the education of
children out of the hands of the parents.
Reduced to a simple formula the aims of the Illuminati may be summarized in
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1.
3.
4.
5.
6.

the following six points:


Abolition of Monarchy and all ordered Government.
Abolition of private property.
Abolition of inheritance.
Abolition of patriotism.
Abolition of the family (i.e., of marriage and all morality,
and
the institution of the communal education of children).
6. Abolition of all religion.
Now it will surely be admitted that the above forms a program hitherto
unprecedented in the history of civilization. Communistic theories had been held by
isolated thinkers or groups of thinkers since the days of Plato, but no one, as far as we
know, had ever yet seriously proposed to destroy everything for which civilization
stands. Moreover, when, as we shall see, the plan of Illuminism as codified by the
above six points has continued up to the present day to form the exact program of the
World Revolution, how can we doubt that the whole movement originated with the
Illuminati or with secret influences at work behind them?
It was on the 11th of October 1786 that the Bavarian authorities descended
upon the house of Zwack and seized the documents which laid bare the methods of the
conspirators. Here were found descriptions of a strong box for safe guarding papers
which if forced open should blow up by means of an infernal machine; of a
composition which should blind or kill if squirted in the face; of a method for
counterfeiting seals; recipes for a particularly deadly kind of >aqua toffana, for
poisonous perfumes that would fill a bedroom with pestilential vapors, and for a tea to
procure abortion. A eulogy of atheism entitled Better than Horus was also discovered,
and a paper in the handwriting of Zwack describing the plan for enlisting women in
the two classes mentioned above:
It will be of great service and procure much information and money, and will
suit charmingly the taste of many of our truest members who are lovers of the sex. It
should consist of two classes, the virtuous and the freer-hearted.... They must not
know of each other, and must be under the direction of men, but without knowing it...
through good books, and the latter (class) through the indulging of their passions in
concealment.
....The fearful danger presented by the Illuminati now became apparent, and
the Government of Bavaria, judging that the best manner of conveying a warning to
the civilized world would be to allow the papers to speak for themselves, ordered
them to be printed forthwith and circulated as widely as possible. A copy of this
publication, entitled Original Writings of the Order of the Illuminati, was then
forwarded to every Government of Europe, but, strange to say, attracted little
attention, the truth being doubtless, as the Abb Barruel points out, that the
extravagance of the scheme therein propounded rendered it unbelievable, and the
rulers of Europe, refusing to take Illuminism seriously, put it aside as a chimera.
C. The Revolution
1. Calling of StsCGen because of financial difficulties C the pretext for
Enlightenment ideas to work. The
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Revolution was radical from the beginning and had immense support
from the spirit of the age. Wordsworth: Bliss was it in that scene(?) to be
alive, but to be young was very heaven.
2. Jacobins: took the lead from the beginning, the only real party. Agreed
beforehand on policy in National Assembly. Well organized C 406 affiliated
societies in the provinces with 500,000 members by 1793. They take control,
power from secret societies: Barruel IV, 1-2.
Conceived not many years before the French Revolution, in
the thoughts of a man whose total ambition seemed absorbed at Ingolstadt in
the chalk-dust of schools, how is it that Illuminism, in less than twenty years, became
that formidable Sect which under the name of Jacobins, counts today as its trophies so
many altars fallen to pieces, so many Sceptres broken or mangled; so many
Constitutions overturned, so many Nations subjugated; so many Potentates fallen
under its daggers or its poisons or its executioners, so many other Potentates
humiliated beneath the yoke of a servitude called peace, or of a servitude even
more dishonorable called alliance?
Under this same name of Jacobins, swallowing up simultaneously all the
secrets, all the conspiracies, all the sects of sworn infidels, of seditious Plotters, of
disornagizing Plotters, how is it that Illuminism sets up such a dominion of fear that,
holding the universe in dismay, it permits not a single King to say: tomorrow I will
still be King; and not a single people: tomorrow I will still have my laws and my
religion; not a single citizen: tomorrow both my fortune and my home will still be
mine; tomorrow I will not awaken beneath the tree of Liberty on the one side, and the
tree of death, the ravenous guillitine on the other?
Invisible authors, how it is that the secret adepts of modern-day Spartacus
alone preside at all the crimes, at all the disasters of this plague of brigandage and of
ferocity called Revolution? How do they still preside over all that the Sect plans, in
order to consummate the desolation and dissolution of human societies?
The Jacobins orders were instantly obeyed [Barruel] IV 337. They drink
each others blood to the death of kings. Western fall of monarchy in 1792
destruction begins in earnest.
I found the letter. It was composed in these terms: >Your letter, my dear
friend, has been read in presence of the whole Club. It was surprising to find so much
philosophy in a village Curate. Never fear, my dear Curate; we are three hundred; we
mark the heads, and they fall. As for that of which you speak, it is not time yet. Only
keep your people ready; dispose your parishioners to execute the orders, and they
shall be given to you in time.
This letter was signed...Dietrich, secretary.
To the reflections which this letter suggests, I shall add only that the club from
where it was sent, had changed the place of its meetings to go to the suburb of Ste.
Honore, and that there it remained unknown to the Court; until the moment of one of
these orgies, whose object would be to again apprise the King of the fate that awaited
him. After one of these repasts celebrated in the name of fraternity, all the Brothers
would prick their arms and drain their blood into their glass; all would drink of this
blood, after having cried, >Death to the Kings, and this would be the last toast of their
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fraternal repast. This letter tells us also which men formed this legion of the Twelve
Hundred, which Jean de Brie proposed to establish at the Convention, whose goal was
to be spread into the Empires to assassinate all the Kings of the earth.
3. Violence: the usual interpretation C incidental, passions aroused,
national defense, etc. But evidence points to deliberate use: when there are real
grievances, they are exploited by clever politicians to promote the Revolution,
Great role of agitators.
(1) The Great Fear July 1789: Bourne p.100;
Web.32-33.
To whatever agency we attribute it, however, the mechanism of the French
Revolution distinguishes it from all previous revolutions. Hitherto the isolated
revolutions that had taken place throughout the history of the world can be clearly
recognized as spontaneous movements brought about by oppression or by a political
faction enjoying some measure of popular support, and therefore endeavoring to
satisfy the demands of the people. But in the French Revolution we see for the first
time that plan in operation which has been carried on right up to the present moment
-- the systematic attempt to create grievances in order to exploit them..
The most remarkable instance of engineered agitation during the early stages
of the Revolution was the extraordinary incident known to history as The Great
Fear, when on the same day, July 22, 1789, and almost at the same hour, in towns and
villages all over France, a panic was created by the announcement that brigands were
approaching and therefore that all good citizens must take up arms. The messengers
who brought the news post-haste on horseback in many cases exhibited placards
headed Edict of the King, bearing the words The King orders all chteaux to be
burnt down; he only wishes to keep his own! And the people, obedient to these
commands, seized upon every weapon they could find and set themselves to the task
of destruction. The object of the conspirators was thus achieved -- the arming of the
populace against law and order, a device which ever since 1789 has always formed the
first item in the programme of the social revolution.
Protest of women Oct. 5, 1789: women also dressed as men, many forced
to go along.
(2) The Reign of Terror under Robespierre: ostensibly invoked by foreign
invasion, seeking enemies of the people inside; this a means of governing (cf.
Communism). But deeper; there was a little-publicized plan of
depopulization. Report of the Committee of Public Safety, Aug. 8, 1795: Be
peaceful;
France has enough for 12 million men: all the rest (12 million) will have
to be put to death. And then you will no longer lack for bread. (Barruel IV. p.
335).
It was she [the sect] that extinguished even the affection of a brother for his
brother; of the child for his father, when the adept Chnier, at the sight of a brother
delivered over to his executioners, coolly replied, >If my Brother is not in the
sentiment of the Revolution, let him be sacrificed; when the adept Philip brought in
triumph to the Jacobins the heads of his father and mother. This is the Sect always
insatiable for blood, which by the mouth of Marat, demanded yet two hundred and
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seventy thousand heads, which before long could only be counted by millions. She
[the Sect] knew it; all the secrets of its equality could only be accomplished in its
greatest events by depopulating the world; and the sect which replied through Le Bo,
to the Communes of Montauban, terrified for want of provisions, Never fear; France
has enough for twelve million men; it is necessary that the rest, that is, the other
twelve million Frenchmen must be put to death, and then you will no longer lack
bread. (Report of the Committee of Public Safety, meeting of August 8, 1975)
Revolutionary Tribunal discussed reduction of population to 1/3 or 1/2;
Committee of Public Safety calculated how many heads to have in each town
and district. Drowned, guillotined, or shot C perhaps
300,000, of which only 3,000 nobles, most peasants and workers. At
Nantes 500 children of poor people were killed in one butchery; 144 poor
women thrown into river, etc.
(3) Killings and destruction especially fierce: Sept.
1792 massacres of priests and others in prisons C cannibalism and torture.
The violence calculated C and Marxs idea. Sieyes replies: (Barruel IV 335) You
speak to us always of our means, eh, Monsiuer, it is the end, it is the object and
the goal that one must learn to see.
You speak to us always about our means; eh, Monsieur, it is the end, it is the
object and the goal that you must learn to see....
Saint-Just: I will walk willingly with my feet in blood and tears.
>I will walk willingly with my feet in blood and tears,said Robespierres
coadjutor Saint-Just; and this, whether he admits it or not, must be the maxim of every
revolutionary Socialist who believes that any methods are justifiable for the
attainment of his end.
4. Babeuf, Conspiracy of the Equals.
a. Disciple of Weischaupt, followed Robespierres
Communist ideas. Said depopulization was the immense secret of the
Terror (claimed it took 1 million lives). Formed his own masonic organization for
bringing about equality. A Communist (Web. 56)
Unfortunately the confusion of mind prevailing amongst the advocates of
>Equality was so great that the meetings -- which before long consisted of two
thousand people -- became >like a Tower of Babel. No one knew precisely what he
wanted and no decisions could be reached; it was therefore decided to supplement
these huge assmeblies by small secret committees...and here the scheme of social
revolution was elaborated. Starting from the premise that all property is theft, it was
decided that the process known in revolutionary language as >expropriation must
take place; that is to say, all property must be wrested from its present owners by force
-- the force of an armed mob. But Babeuf, whilst advocating violence and tumult as
the means to an end, in no way desired anarchy as a permanent condition; the State
must be maintained, and not only maintained but made absolute, the sole dispenser of
the necessities of life. >In my system of Common Happiness, he wrote, >I desire that
no individual property shall exist. The land is Gods and its fruits belong to all men in
general. Another Babouviste, the Marquis dAntonelle, formerly a member of the
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Revolutionary Tribunal, had expressed the matter in much the same words: >The
State of Communism is the only just, the only good one; without this state of things
no peaceful and really happy societies can exist.
Apr. 1796 finished his Manifesto of Equals. Web.
57-8.
Babeuf then decided that a >Secret Directorate must be formed, of which the
workings bear a curious resemblance to those of the Illuminati. Thus Weishaupt had
employed twelve leading adepts to direct operations throughout Germany, and had
strictly enjoined his followers not to be known even to each other as Illuminati; so
Babeuf now instituted twelve principal agents to work the different districts of Paris,
and these men were not even to know the names of those who formed the central
committee of four, but only to communicate with them through intermediaries
partially initiated into the secrets of the conspiracy. Like Weishaupt also Babeuf
adopted a domineering and arrogant tone towards his subordinates, and any whom he
suspected of treachery were threatened, after the manner of the secret societies, with
the direst vengeance. >Woe to those of whom we have cause to complain! he wrote to
one whose zeal he had begun to doubt; >reflect that true conspirators can never
relinquish those they have once decided to employ.
By April 1796 the plan of insurrection was complete, and the famous
Manifesto of the Equals drawn up ready for publication.
>People of France, this proclamation announced, >for fifteen centuries you
have lived in slavery and consequently in unhappiness. For six years (i.e. during the
course of the Revolution) you have hardly drawn breath, waiting for independence,
for happiness, and equality. Equality! the first desire of Nature, the first need of Man
and the principal bond of all legal association!
>Well! We intend henceforth to live and die equal as we were
born; we wish for real equality or death, that is what we must have. And
we will have this real equality, no matter at what price.
Woe to those who interpose themselves between it and us! . . >The F roofs of
our houses. We will consent to anything for that, to make
a clean sweep so as to hold to that only. Perish if necessary all the arts
provided that real equality is left to us!
>The agrarian law and the division of lands were the momentary wish of
a few soldiers without principle moved by instinct rather than by reason. We
tend to something more sublime and equitable, the Common Happiness or the
Community of Goods. No more private property in land, the land belongs to no
one We claim, we wish for the communal enjoyment of the fruits of the earth:
the fruits of the earth belong to every one.
>We declare that we can no longer endure that the great majority of men
should work and sweat in the service and for the good pleasure of an extreme
minority. Long enough and too long have less than a million individuals
disposed of what belongs to more than twenty millions of their fellowmen, of
their equals. Let it cease at last, this great scandal in which our nephews will not
be able to believe. Vanish at last revolting distinctions of rich and poor, of great
and small, of masters and servants, of governors and governed. Let there be no
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other difference between men than that of age and sex. Since all have the sarne
needs and the same faculties, let there be only one education, one kind of food.
They content themselves with one sun and air for all; why should not the same
portion and the same quality of food suffice for each of them?...
>People of France, we say to you: the holy enterprise that we are
organizing has no other object but to put an end to civil dissensions and to public
misery. Never has a more vast design been conceived and executed. From time to
time a few men of genius, a few sages have spoken in a low and trembling voice.
Not one of them has had the courage to tell the whole truth. The moment for
great measures has arrived. The evil is at its height; it covers the face of the earth.
Chaos under the name of politics has reigned for too many centuries.... The
moment has come to found the Republic of the Equals, the great hostel open to
all men....
Groaning families, come and seat yourselves at the common table set up
by nature for all her children....
>People of France, Open your eyes and heart to the plenitude of
happiness; recognize and proclaim with us the Republic of the Equals.
This document was destined, however, not to be displayed to the eyes of
the public, for the Secret Committee finally decided that it would be inexpedient
to admit the people into the whole plan of the conspiracy; particularly did they
judge it inadvisable to publish the phrase which had been expressed in almost
identical language by Weishaupt: >Perish all the arts, provided that real equality
is left to us! The people of France were not to know that a return to barbarism
was contemplated. Accordingly a second proclamation was framed under the title
of >Analysis of the Doctrine of Babeuf -- a far less inspiring appeal than the
former Manifesto, and mainly unintelligible to the working-classes, yet, as M.
Fleury remarks, >the veritable Bible or Koran of the despotic system known as
Communism. For herein lies the crux of the matter. No one reading these two
documents of the Babouvistes can fail to recognize the truth of certain of their
strictures on society -- the glaring disparity between poverty and riches, the
uneven distribution of work and pleasure, the injustice of an industrial system
whereby, owing largely at this period to the suppression of trade unions by the
revolutionary leaders, employers could live in luxury by sweated labor -- but the
point is: how did Babeuf propose to redress these evils? Briefly, then, his system,
founded on the doctrine >Community of goods and of labor, may be
summarized as follows:
Every one must be forced to work so many hours a day in return for
equal remuneration; the man who showed himself
more skilful or industrious than his fellows would be recompensed merely by
>public gratitude. This compulsory labor was in fact not to be paid for in money but
in kind, for, since the right to private property constituted the principal evil of existing
society, the distinction of >mine and >thine must be abolished and no one should be
allowed to possess anything of his own. Payment could therefore only be made in the
products of labor, which were all to be collected in huge communal stores and doled
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out in equal rations to the workers. Inevitably commerce would be entirely done away
with, and money was no longer to be coined or admitted to the country; foreign trade
must therefore be carried on by coin now in circulation, and when that was exhausted,
by a system of barter.
But people were not informed of this ( la Weischaupt), told only that the
goods of the enemies of the people would be given to the needy.
But the people were not in the secret of the movement. Just as in the great
outbreaks of the Revolution the mob of Paris has been driven blindly forward on false
pretexts supplied by the agitators, so once again the people were to be made the
instruments of their own ruin. The >Secret Committee of Direction well knew that
Communism was a system that would never appeal to the people; they were careful,
therefore, not to admit their dupes among the working-classes into the whole of their
programme, and believing that it was only by an appeal to self-interest and
covetousness they could secure a following, they skillfully played on the peoples
passions, promising them booty they had no intention of bestowing on them. Thus in
the >Insurrectional Act now drawn up by the Committee it was announced that >the
goods of the emigrs, of the conspirators (i.e., the Royalists), and the enemies of the
people were to be distributed to the defenders of the country and the needy; they did
not tell them that in reality these things were to belong to no one, but to become the
property of the State administered by themselves.... The people then were not to be
allowed to know the truth about the cause in which they were asked to shed their
blood -- and that they would be obliged to shed it in torrents no sane man could
doubt.
His admiration for Robespierre C Web 64.
...[W]hen it came to organizing the required insurrection Babeuf adopted a
very different kind of language. In fact the former denouncer of Robespierres
>system of depopulation now asserted that not only Robespierres aims but his
methods were to be commended.
I confess to-day that I bear a grudge against myself for having formerly seen
the revolutionary government and Robespierre and Saint-Just in such black colors. I
think these men alone were worth all the revolutionaries put together, and that their
dictatorial government was devilishly well thought out.... I do not at all agree...that
they committed great crimes and made many Republicans perish. Not so many, I
think.... The salvation of twenty-five millions of men must not be weighed against
consideration for a few equivocal individuals. A regenerator must take a wide
outlook. He must mow down everything that thwarts him, everything that obstructs
his passage, everything that can impede his prompt arrival at the goal on which he
has determined. Rascals or imbeciles, or presumptuous people or those eager for
glory, it is all the same, tant pis pour eux [so much the pity for them] -- what are they
there for? Robespierre knew all that and it is partly what makes me adrnire him.
But where Babeuf showed himself the intellectual inferior of Robespierre was
in the way he proposed to overcome resistance to his plan of a Socialist State.
Robespierre, as he well knew, had spent fourteen months >mowing down those that
obstructed his passage, had kept the guillotine unremittingly at work in Paris and the
provinces, yet even then had not succeeded in silencing objectors. But Babeuf hoped
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to accomplish his purpose in one day -- that >great day of the people wherein all
opposition should be instantly suppressed, the whole existing social order annihilated,
and the Republic of Equality erected on its ruins. If, however, the process were to be
brief it must necessarily be all the more violent, and it was thus with none of the calm
precision of Robespierre marking down heads for destruction that Babeuf set about his
task.
His frenzy C Web 65.
When writing out his plans of insurrection, his secretary Pill afterwards
related at his trial, Babeuf would rush up and down the room with flaming eyes,
mouthing and grimacing, hitting himself against the furniture, knocking over the
chairs whilst uttering hoarse cries of >To arms! to arms! The insurrection! the
insurrection is beginning! -- it was an insurrection against the chairs, said Pill drily.
Then Babeuf would fling himself upon his pen, plunge it into the ink, and write with
fearful rapidity, whilst his whole body trembled and the perspiration poured from his
brow. >It was no longer madness, added Pill, >it was frenzy! This frenzy, Babeuf
explained, was necessary in order to work himself up to the required degree of
eloquence, and in his appeals to insurrection it is difficult to see where his programme
differed from the brigandage and violence he had deprecated....
The Great Day of Revolution C Web 67-8.
The following programme for the >Great Day was now drawn up by the
Secret Directory: at a given moment the revolutionary army was to march on the
Legislative Assembly, on the headquarters of the Army, and on the houses of the
Ministers. The best-trained troops were to be sent to the arsenals and the munition
factories, and also to the camps of Vincennes and Grenelle in the hope that the 8,000
men encamped there would join in the movement. Meanwhile orators were to hold
forth to the soldiers, and women were to present them with refreshment and civic
wreaths. In the event of their remaining proof against these seductions the streets were
to be barricaded, and stones, bricks, boiling water, and vitriol thrown down on the
heads of the troops. All supplies for the capital were then to be seized and placed
under the control of the leaders; at the same time the wealthier classes were to be
driven from their houses, which were immediately to be converted into lodgings for
the poor. The members of the Directory were then to be butchered, likewise all
citizens who offered any resistance to the insurgents. The insurrection thus >happily
terminated, as Babeuf naively expressed it, the whole people were to be assembled in
the Place de la Revolution and invited to co-operate in the choice of their
representatives. >The plan, writes Buonarotti, >was to talk to the people without
reserve and without digressions, and to render the most impressive homage to its
sovereignty. But lest the people perchance, blinded to its truest interests, might fail to
recognize its saviours in the person of the conspirators, the Babouvistes proposed to
follow up their homage of the peoples sovereignty by demanding that >executive
power should be exclusively confided to themselves; for, as Buonarotti observed, >at
the beginning of the revolution it is necessary, even out of respect for the real
sovereignty of the people, to occupy oneself less with the wishes of the nation than to
place supreme authority in strongly revolutionary hands. Once in these hands it
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would of course remain there, and the Babouvistes with all the civil and military
forces at their back would be able to impose their system of State serfdom on the
submissive people.
Violence C 70.
At a meeting of the committee, there was read aloud the finished plan of
insurrection, to which further atrocious details had been added -- every one attempting
to exercise any authority was instantly to be put to death, the armorers were to be
forced to give up their arms, the bakers their supplies of bread, and those who resisted
hoisted to the nearest lantern; the same fate was reserved for all wine and spirit
merchants who might refuse to provide the brandy needed to inflame the populace and
drive them into violence. >All reflection on the part of the people must be avoided,
ran the written directions to the leaders; >they must commit acts which will prevent
them from going back.
Amongst the whole of this ferocious band, Rossignol, the former general of
the revolutionary armies in La Vendee, showed himself the most bloodthirsty: >I will
not have anything to do with your insurrection, he cried, >unless heads fall like
hail...unless it inspires so great a terror that it makes the whole universe shudder..." -a discourse that met with unanimous applause.
The 11th of May had been fixed for the great day of explosion, when not only
Paris, but all the cities of France worked on by the agents of Babeuf were to rise and
overthrow the whole structure of civilization.... [Meanwhile there was an informant]
and the Government, warned of the impending attack, was ready to meet it. On the
morning of the day appointed, a placard was found posted up on all the walls of Paris
bearing these words:
The Executive Directory to the Citizens of Paris
Citizens, a frightful plot is to break out this night or tomorrow at the dawn of
day. A band of thieves and murderers has formed the project of butchering the
Legislative Assembly, all the members of the Government, the staff of the Army, and
all constituted authorities in Paris. The Constitution of >93 is to be proclaimed. This
proclamation is to be the signal for a general pillage of Paris, of houses an much as of
stores and shops, and the massacre of a great number of citizens is to be carried out at
the same time. But be reassured, good citizens; the Government is watching, it knows
the leaders of the plot and their methods...; be calm, therefore, and carry on your
ordinary business; the Government has taken infallible measures for outwitting their
schemes, and for giving them up with their partisans to the vengeance of the law.
Then, without further warning, the police burst into the house where Babeuf
and Buonarotti were drawing up a rival placard calling the people to revolt. In the
midst of their task the arm of the law surprised and seized them, and on the following
morning forty-five other leaders of the conspiracy were arrested likewise and thrown
into the Abbaye. Alas for the support they had hoped for from the populace! The
revolutionary army on which they had counted, impressed as the people always are by
a display of authority, went over to the police in support of law and order. With the
removal of the agitators the whole populace came to their senses and realized the full
horror of the plot into which they had been inveigled.
Napoleon averted them and ended the last great attempt in French
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Revolution to realize the aim of Illumism.


5. Revolutionaries devoured each other -- Barruel, IV, 338-9.
Christ had no more Altar in France; the Kings had no more Throne; those who
had destroyed the Altar and the Throne conspired against each other; the intruders, the
atheists and the deists slaughtered the Catholics; the intruders, the atheists and the
deists slaughtered one another. The Constitutionalists pursued the Royalists, the
Republicans pursued the Constitutionalists; the democrats of theone and indivisible
Republic, butchered the democrats of the federate Republic; the faction of the
Mountain guillotined the faction of the Gironde. The faction of the Mountain divided
into the faction of Hebert and of Marat, into the faction of Danton and of Chabot, into
the faction of Cloots and of Chaumette, into the faction of Robespierre which
devoured them all, and which would be in its turn devoured by the faction of Tallien
and of Freron. Brissot and Gensonn, Guadet, Fauchet, Rabaud, Barbaroux and thurty
others were sentenced by Fouquier-Tinville as they had passed sentence on Louis
XVI; Fouquier-Tinville was himself judged as he judged Brissot. Pethion and Buzot,
wandering in the forests, perished consumed by hunger, devoured by beasts; Perrin
died in chains, Condorcet poisoned himself in prison, Valage and Labat stabbed
themselves, Marat was murdered by Charlotte Corday; Robespierre is no more; of
them Syeyes still remains, because France must yet have its plagues. Lenfer, to
establish the reign of his impiety, le Ciel to punish him for it, gave her [France] under
the name of Directors her five tyrants or her Pentarques and her double Senate.
Rewbel, Carnot, Barras, le Toureur, la Reveillre-Lepaux rob her of her weapons,
drive out the Deputies of her equality and her liberty, batter her sections with cannon
and mortars, squeeze her in his clutches and cause to hang upon her a yoke of iron.
All tremble before them; they are frightened, envying one another, withdrawing from
one another; only allowing new tyrants to arrive and join together; the deportations,
the stupor, the terror and these Pentarques, at this moment those are the Gods who
rule over France. The silence of the terror in her empire, where her vast prison, twenty
million slaves all dumb with terror under the shaft, at the mere name of la Guiane, of
Merlin, or of Rewbel; behold this people so often proclaimed equal and free and
sovereign.
France ruined by Revolution -- Webster 49-50
...the condition of France at the end of the Terror...:
>France is demoralized. She is exhausted -- this is the last trait of this country
in ruins. There is no longer any public opinion, or rather this opinion is made up only
of hatred. They hate the Directors (members of the Directory) and they hate the
deputies; they hate the Terrorists and they hate the chouans (the Royalists of La
Vende); they hate the rich and they hate the anarchists; they hate the Revolution and
they hate the counterrevolution.... But where hatred reaches paroxysm is in the case of
the newly rich. What is the good of having destroyed Kings, nobles, and aristocrats,
since deputies, farmers, and tradesmen take their place? What cries of hatred!... Of all
the ruins found and increased by the Directory -- ruins of parties, ruins of power, ruins
of homes, ruins of consciences, ruins of intellects -- there is nothing more pitiable that
this: the ruin of national character.
Eight years after the ending of the Terror, France had not yet recovered from
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its ravages. According to Redhead Yorke, even the usually accepted theory of
agricultural prosperity is erroneous.
>Nothing can exceed the wretchedness of the implements of husbandry
employed but the wretched appearance of the persons using them. Women at the
plough, and young girls driving a team give but an indifferent idea of the progress of
agriculture under the Republic. There are no farmhouses dispersed over the fields.
The farmers reside together in remote villages, a circumstance calculated to retard the
business of cultivation. The interiors of the houses are filthy, the farmyards in the
utmost disorder, and the miserable condition of the cattle sufficiently bespeaks the
poverty of their owner.
Everywhere beggars assailed the traveller for alms; in spite of the reduced
population unemployment was rife, education was at a standstill, and owing to the
destruction of the old nobility and clergy, and the fact that the new rich who occupied
their estates were absentee landlords, there was no system of organized charity. Yorke
is finally driven to declare:
>The Revolution, which was brought about ostensibly for the benefit of the
lower classes of society, has sunk them to a degree of degradation and misfortune to
which they never were reduced under the ancient monarchy. They have been
disinherited, stripped, and deprived of every resource for existence, except defeats of
arms and the fleeting spoil of vanquishing nations.
In another passage Yorke asks the inevitable question that arises in the minds
of all thinking contemporaries:
>France still bleeds at every pore -- she is a vast mourning family, clad in
sackcloth. It is impossible at this time for a contemplative mind to be gay in France.
At every footstep the merciless and sanguinary route of fanatical barbarians disgust
the sight and sicken humanity -- on all sides ruins obtrude themselves on the eye and
compel the question, For what and for whom are all this havoc and desolation?
6. Religion
a. De-Christianization: Nov. 1793 C Lefebre v. 2, 77-8
...the church is desecrated. The same thing happened in this revolution. But in
1793 the new revolution to replace Catholicism became apparent. And this is one of
the standard Lefebvre textbooks which is very objective and discusses this.
In 1793 the festival of August 10th,... the proclamation of the republic, was
purely secular. The new religion endowed itself with symbols and a form of liturgy,
honored the >holy Mountain, that is, the place, the party of the Mountain, and
venerated its martyrs, Lepeletier, Marat, and Chalier. On the 3 Brumaire, Year II
(October, 24,1793),... the Convention adopted the revolutionary calendar. The year
one was to begin with August 10th, 1792, the republic. All the months are renamed in
accordance with natural phenomena; that is, in the, I think December is called
Pleuvoise which means rain, the rainy season, the rainy month and so forth. It
attempted to dechristianize daily life by replacing references to religious ceremonies
and the saints with names borrowed from tools and products familiar to the French.
All feast days were abolished, and the seven day week was abolished also in favor of a
ten day week; that is, theres no more Sunday. In 1793 November a report...
concerning civic festivals constituted the prelude to the official organization of the
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new national religion....


At Nevers on September 22, 1793,... a festival was celebrated in the cathedral
in honor of Brutus. In this province in October of 1793 all ceremonies, all religious
ceremonies outside churches were abolished, and funeral processions and cemeteries
were secularized. Other local provinces adopted similar policies. The district of
Corbeil declared that the majority of persons under its jurisdiction no longer desired
the Catholic form of worship. In November 6th, 1793, the bishop of Paris resigned
under compulsion and said that he had been deceived. On the 17th of November he
came with his vicars to the Convention to confirm his action officially. A Festival of
Liberty was planned for 20 Brumaire, year II (November 10th, 1793). To celebrate the
victory of philosophy over fanaticism, the Commune seized Notre Dame, Cathedral,
a mountain was built in the choir, and an actress impersonated Liberty. Informed of
this, the Convention proceeded to the cathedral -- now called the Temple of Reason -and attended a second celebration of the civic festival. By the way, they burned in
effigy the image of atheism, because the revolution is not atheist; its deistic. Some
sections (provinces) followed this example. On the 30th (November 20) the citizens of
the Unity section... adorned with priestly symbols, paraded before the Convention,
singing and dancing. And on November 23rd 1793 the churches were closed.
Temple of reason C Dawson 121-2
We have some sources which show and give insight into the spirit of these
celebrations of Reason. For example, in the city of Chalons-on-the-Marne, theres the
following description of the inauguration of a Temple of Reason: The festival was
announced in the whole Commune the evening before. For this purpose retreat was
sounded by all the drummers and by the trumpeters of the troops in barracks at
Chalons and all parts of town. The next day at daybreak it was again announced by
general quarters which was likewise sounded in all parts. The former church of Notre
Dame was for lack of time and means cleaned and prepared only provisionally for its
new use, and in its former sanctuary there was erected a pedestal supporting the
symbolic statue of Reason. It is of simple and free design, this is an eyewitness
account, It is of simple and free design, decorated only by an inset bearing this
inscription: >Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It was flanked by
two columns surrounded by two antique bronze perfume boxes which emitted incense
smoke during the whole ceremony. In front at the foot of three steps was placed an
altar of antique form on which were to be placed the emblems of the various groups
composing the procession would put there. On the four pillars of the corners of the
sanctuary were four projecting brackets to receive the bust of Brutus, and hes the
enemy of tyranny, the father of the republics and the model of republicans, of Marat
the faithful friend of the people, who was a vicious killer, of Lepelletier, who died
for the republic, and the immortal Chalier. At precisely nine o'clock in the morning the
general assemblage formed on the gravel promenade, otherwise called the Promenade
of Liberty. The military detachments and other groups destined to form the procession
had their places indicated there. Commissioners from the society arranged them in
order. A detachment of cavalry, national constabulary and Hussars mingled together to
strengthen the bonds of fraternity, leading the march; and on their penant there were
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these words, >Reason guides us and enlightens us. It was followed by the company of
canoneers of Chalons preceded by a banner with this inscription, >Death to the
Tyrants. This company was followed by a cart loaded with broken chains on which
were six prisoners of war and a few wounded being cared for by a surgeon. This cart
carried two banners front and back with these two inscriptions, >Humanity is a
Republican Virtue and >They were very mistaken in fighting for tyrants, that is,
these prisoners of war. This cart was accompanied by two detachments of national
guardsmen and regular troops fully armed. Other common people carried banners with
the words, >Let us be united like it, like the tri-color flag, >nothing can conquer
us. Forty women citizens dressed in white and decorated with tri-color ribbons
carried a large tri-color ribbon tied to each head. A liberty bonnet crowned this banner
and young national guardsmen accompanied them carrying various pennants on which
were written various mottos. In its train groups of children of both sexes carried
baskets of fruit and vases of flowers accompanying a cart drawn by two white horses.
In the cart was a young woman nursing an infant, beside her a group of children of
different ages. It was preceded by a banner with this inscription, >They are the hope
of the fatherland. From the cart flew a tri-color streamer with this inscription, >The
virtuous mother will produce defenders for the fatherland. This van was followed by
a chariot of antique type decorated with oak branches and bearing a sexagenarian
couple with a streamer on which was written these words, >Respect old age. Again
there was a group of national guardsmen united arm-in-arm singing hymns to liberty
and bearing two banners bearing these inscriptions, >Our unity is our strength and
>We will exterminate the last of the despots. Next marched a group of women with
tri-color ribbons bearing a standard with this inscription, >Austere morals will
strengthen the republic. All who composed this group were dressed in white, as were
the drivers of the cart, and all were bedecked with tri-color ribbons. Then followed the
surveillance committees, that is, the GPU, grouped one after another. In front were
four banners each bearing the name of a section and an emblem depicting a finger on
the lips to indicate secrecy and another banner with this inscription, >Our institution
purges society of a multitude of suspicious people. The republic section went first; it
accompanied a chariot pulled by two white horses and led by two men on foot dressed
in Roman style. In it was a woman dressed in the same way representing the Republic.
On the front of this chariot appeared a tri-color ensign bearing these words,
>Government of the wise. Next marched the Equality section accompanying a plough
pulled by two oxen and guided by a cultivator in work clothes. A couple seated on it
carried a standard on which were written on one side, >Honor the plough and on the
other side, >Respect conjugal love. The principal inspector and all the employees in
the military storehouses formed a group which followed the plough. Two standards
were carried by this group. The first had the words, >Military Supplies and the
second, >Our activity produces abundance in our armies. Then marched the Fraternity
section, consoling groups of convalescents whose physicians were close by. In the
middle of this section was an open cart from the Montagne Hospital containing men
wounded in the defense of the fatherland, who appeared to have been cared for and
bled by health officers who were binding their wounds. They were partly covered by
their bloody bandages. The front of this cart carried a banner with this inscription,
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>Our blood will never cease to flow for the safety of the fatherland. After the
committees followed four women citizens dressed in white and adorned with tri-color
belts decorated with the attributes of the four seasons. After the four seasons came the
peoples representative in the midst of the constituted authorities, civil and judicial,
wearing their distinctive insigna. Each citizen held in his hand a wheat stalk and on
the banner which preceded the constituted authorities was this inscription, >From the
enforcement of the laws come prosperity and abundance. These were followed by
various staff officers of the national guard who were preceded by a banner saying,
>Destroy the tyrants or die. Next the illegitimate children of the fatherland were led
by a woman bearing a banner, >The fatherland adopts us, we are eager to serve it.
FinalIy the old people represented by veterans without weapons, preceded by two
banners on which were the inscriptions, >The dawn of reason and liberty embellishes
the end of our life, and >The French Republic honors loyalty, courage, old age, filial
piety, misfortune. It places its constitution under the safe keeping of aIl the virtues.
Finally there was a pause for singing patriotic songs. On the front steps of the
city hall there had been built and painted a mountain, at the top of which was placed
a Hercules defending a facies fourteen feet in height. A tri-color flag flew above it on
which was written in Iarge letters, >To the Mountain from the grateful French. That
is, like saying To the Bolsheviks.
At the foot of the mountain pure water fIowed from a spring faIling by various
cascades. Twelve men dressed as mountaineers armed with pikes and with civic
crowns on their heads were hidden in caverns in the mountain. As the procession
arrived singing the last couplet of the Marseilleise, the mountaineers quietly came out
of their caverns without fully revealing themselves, and when >To Arms Citizens was
sung, they ran to get axes to defend their retreat, posted themselves on different sides
of the mountain, but seeing the cart with feudalism and fanaticism drawn by donkeys
with miters on their heads, they ran towards them, axe in hand, grabbed the miters,
copes and chasubles which adorned them as welI as the Pope and his acolytes and
chained them to the chariot of liberty. During this the band played a military charge.
The mountaineers, seeing other carts arrive and feigning to believe that they
were only the train following the one containing Fanaticism, advanced in their column
to meet the first one they saw which was the chariot of Liberty. They lowered their
axes as a sign of respect and the band played a march. Then a litter appeared
supporting a chair decorated with garlands. The goddess descended from her cart,
seated herself on the chair and was borne by eight mountaineers to the foot of the
mountain. She was followed by two nymphs, one of whom was carrying a tri-color
flag and the other the Declaration of the Rights of Man. They marched upon the trash
remnants of nobility and superstition which were then burned to the great contentment
of all the citizens and climbing the mountain with peoples representative, Pleger, then
present at this festival, and mountaineers who represented his colleagues while the
band played, >Where can one better be than in the bosom of ones famiIy reached the
summit. The goddess was crowned by the graces. Then a tri-color flag was displayed
and they sang, >Our countrys three colors. And still on the mountain they sang,
>When from the mountain peeks the sun. The procession descended, the goddess
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stopped at the spring, a vase was presented to her by the president of the Commune.
She drank some water from the mountain, then presented some to the peoples
representative, to all the constituted authorities, citizens and officers of the different
corps present, who all drank to the health of the republic, one and indivisible and of
the Mountain, the party.
The goddess again on her chair was borne to her chariot by eight
mountaineers. Four others placed themselves at her side, axes raised to drive away the
profane. The others took their places with the administrative bodies to indicate that
public dignitaries are consistent with virtue alone. From there they went to the Temple
of Reason. All the musicians gathered behind the altar with the singers. At the moment
when the procession entered the temple, the organ blared an overture. And the societ
populaire, the constituted authorities, the surveillance committees, GPU, and the
groups described above took places in rows facing the altar of Reason in a certain
distance from it. The military band played hymns to Reason, to Liberty, to hatred for
tyrants, and to sacred love for the fatherland, after which the president of the soceit
populaire delivered the inaugural speech. The Commune president and others
delivered speeches. After their harangues various patriotic hymns were repeated and
accompanied by the military band, after which in front of the temple entrance, the
trumpeteers announced that the inauguration festival and the ceremony were
concluded.
In the evening fireworks were displayed on the mountain, a bouquet marked
the gratitude of all the French to the mountaineers present, who were solemnly
recognized to be the saviors of the republic. Then a ball was held and so brotherhood
was twice celebrated in a single day. Each citizen taking part in this fine day
evidenced this civic spirit. All took the oath to live in freedom or to die.
But this is very much in harmony with, of course, Communist celebrations of
various kinds -- very rational, very ordered, very artificial. The triumph of the abstract
mind which is the sign of reason is the highest reality.
One asks how this all fits together, and well see later on how it all fits together
because we want to examine both the reaction against this in the nineteenth century
and the further development of the revolutionary ideas.
Already we can gain one idea which is very central to all of this. And that is that
this whole Revolution, with these various strands, is very much like a secular form of
something we already saw in the Renaissance period, that is, the chiliastic sects. Now,
theres a goddess of Reason, the same idea theres a new order of the ages; history is
now coming to an end. So far we see no talk of the Third Age of the Holy Spirit,
because its all couched in rationalistic terms; but this is very much an outbreak of that
same spirit. Now its much broader and takes over the whole society. Well see later
on how deep this chiliastic strain goes into modern man.
Napoleon
And now we come to the last aspect of the Revolution, which is that of
Napoleon. With Napoleon the Revolution actually comes to an end, that is, this bloody
part. The whole of Europe is convulsed; half of it is welcoming the Revolution until it
sees all the blood and begins to get a little upset; but still many people are welcoming
revolution, and another half of it is horrified by it; and they begin to fight. And the
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French armies go out beyond the borders carrying the Revolution abroad. They saw
how the....
Goethe, Beethoven and others think its a wonderful thing bringing liberty
and equality to mankind.
And then comes one very talented and clever man, Napoleon, who takes over
the whole thing and becomes over fifteen years the dictator for France. In many ways
he offers a compromise, that is, he restores the church, in fact gives the church.... He
has a concordat with the Pope, which gives the Pope much more power over the
French Church than he had before. He restores the churches; he even restores a new
kind of nobility, and establishes an empire, a new monarchy, but preserving the
advantages of the
Revolution. That is, he has a new law code, he dissolves the whole idea that
there are different castes in society. All are supposed to be equal at least theoretically
before the law. And well look at few aspects of his life, which are not too often talked
about, which were....
Theres a book by [Dimitri] Merezhkovsky, a Russian, crazy Russian, who
however was very much attuned to Napoleons mystical ideas, so he quotes from
many of his letters. To begin with, he has a frontespiece the motto for the whole
book, a quote from Pushkin, who calls Napoleon The Fateful Executor of a
Command Unknown. That is, the idea that he is representing something he knows
not what. He himself is very aware of being on the crest of some movement in
history, and as long as that movement supports him, he can he go forward and
conquer the world; and when it departs, he feels he loses everything. This
Merezhkovsky calls Napoleon the titan who bridled the chaos -- the Revolution.
He took over and gave it order.
Theres a Catholic thinker from the nineteenth century, Leon Bloy, who talks
about Napoleon. He says, Napoleon cannot be explained; he is the most inscrutable
of men, because he is primarily and above all the prototype of Him Who must come
and Who, perhaps, is not far distant; he is the prototype and forerunner, closely akin to
us. Who among us, Frenchmen or even foreigners, living at the end of the nineteenth
century but has felt the illimitable sadness of the consummation of this incomparable
Epic? Who possessed with but an atom of a soul but was not overwhelmed by the
thought of the verily too sudden downfall of the great Empire and its Leader? Who
was not oppressed by the remembrance that but yesterday, so it seemed, men were on
the highest pinnacle possible to humanity, because of the mere presence of this
Beloved, Miraculous and Terrible Being, the like of whom had never before been seen
in the world; and could, like the first human beings in paradise deem themselves lords
of all Gods creation, and now immediately after must again be cast back into the agelong mud of the Bourbons dynasty, because after Napoleon the monarchy was
restored.
He [Napoleon] himself speaks of himself as someone who is very much one of
the people, even though he was himself from some kind of little nobility. He says
Popular fibre responds to mine; I am come from the ranks of the people, and my
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voice has influence over them....


Great was my material power, he said, But my spiritual power was
infinitely greater; it bordered on magic!
When the people died for Napoleon they died for someone whom, as Victor
Hugo writes, Understanding that they were going to die..., they saluted their god
who was standing in the midst of the tempest, that is, Napoleon as a deity.
On his return to Paris from Elba,... that is, when he was first banished to Elba
off the coast of France and then came back for a brief period before Waterloo, he
came into the Palace of the Tuilleries in Paris and, >Those who carried him were
frantic, beside themselves with joy, and thousands of others deemed themselves
happy to be able to kiss or even touch the hem of his garments. >Me thought I was
present at Christs resurrection, says one witness.
When I was a child, writes this same Leon Bloy, I knew old veterans who
could not distinguish him (Napoleon) from the Son of God. Napoleon himself writes
in his testament which he left, I die in the Roman apostolical religion in the bosom of
which I was born. And in fact he lived, he was a member of the Roman Catholic
Church, but in ideas, totally foreign to it. And he said, in fact, I prefer Islam. At least
it is not as absurd as our religion.
>Napoleon is a daimoniac being, says Goethe using the word daimon in its
antique pagan sense, neither god nor devil but someone betwixt the two. There was
an apocalyptic strain which runs throughout the whole Napoleonic mystery. It
originated earlier still with the Revolution, when at times it reached such a pitch that it
is almost akin to the early Christian eschatology, a premonition of the worlds
approaching end. This, of course, is very accurate because this is a chiliastic
movement. >The end of all things is at hand; there will be a new heaven and new
earth.
The ancient dream of paradise lost, of Gods kingdom on earth as in heaven,
together with a new vision of a human kingdom of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity
drew men towards Napoleon.... Napoleon is the soul of the Revolution.... >I am the
French Revolution, says he, as he begins the Empire; and at end he says, >The
Empire is the Revolution.
>He was a bad man, an evil man! -- he says of Rousseau standing over his
grave. >Without him there would have been no French Revolution.... It is true that I,
too, would not have existed.... Perhaps that would have been better for the happiness
of France. Your Rousseau is a madman; it is he who has brought me to this. >Time
will show whether it would not have been better for the peace of the world if neither
Rousseau nor I had lived. Still he was very much the spokesman of the Revolution.
He says of himself, >I closed up the chasm of anarchy. I put an end to Chaos.
I cleansed the Revolution....
>In spite of all its atrocities, the Revolution was the true cause of our moral
regeneration. Thus the most foul-smelling manure produces the most noble
vegetation. Men may restrain or temporarily suppress this progress but are powerless
to crush it. >Nothing can destroy or efface the great principles of the Revolution. Its
sublime truths will endure forever in the light of the wonderful deeds we have done,
in the halo of glory with which we surrounded them, already they are immortal!...
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They live in Great Britain, shed their light in America; have become the heritage of
the French nation. They are the torch which will illuminate the world.... They will
become the religion of all nations and, say what you will, this new epoch will be
associated with my name, because I kindled the torch and shed a light on its
beginnings and now through persecution, I will be forever acclaimed as its Messiah.
Friends and foes alike will call me the first soldier of the Revolution, its champion
leader. When I am no more I shall remain for all nations the beacon star of their rights,
and my name will be their battle cry, the slogan of their hopes.
As to the dichotomy between liberty and equality which, as anyone knows,
exclude each other, he says, >Better abolish liberty than equality. It is the spirit of the
times, and I wish to be a son of my times! >Liberty is the need of the few elect.... It
can be constrained with impunity, but equality is pleasing to the majority.
This Merezhkovsky quite rightly notes that the Revolution seceded from
Christianity in everything, save in the idea of universality. Dostoyevsky writes, As a
matter of fact the French Revolution was nothing more than the last variation and
reincarnation of the same ancient Roman formula of universal unity, which by the
way we discovered earlier is one of the main themes of modern thought.
Napoleon says it himself, My ambition? It was of the highest and noblest kind
that ever perhaps existed -- that of establishing and consecrating the Empire of reason
and the full exercise and enjoyment of all human faculties.
And he wanted to march on Asia. Before he became emperor, he was in Egypt
and came back to take over France. For him Europe was but the route to Asia. He
said, Your Europe is a mole-hill! Only in the East have there been great empires and
mighty upheavals; in the East, where dwell six hundred million people.
The lure of the East, says this Merezhkovsky, grips him all his life. In Egypt
before the Syrian campaign, young General Bonaparte, poring for hours on the ground
over huge outspread maps, dreams of a march to India across Mesopotamia following
the route of Alexander the Great. He says, With overwhelming forces, I shall enter
Constantinople, overthrow the Sultan, and found the new and great empire of the
Orient. This will bring me immortal fame.
Now we see about how he surrounds himself with a mysticism. At St. Helena
when hes in final exile, he says, I always realized the necessity of mystery.... I
always realized that my ends could best be served by surrounding myself with a halo
of mystery which has such a strong fascination for the multitude. It fires the
imagination, paves the way to those brilliant and dramatic effects which give one such
power over men. This was the cause of my unfortunate march to Moscow. Had I been
more deliberate I might have averted every evil, but I could not delay it. It was
necessary that my movement and success should seem, as it were. supernatural.
And about religion he says, I created a new religion. Already I pictured myself
on the road to Asia, riding on an elephant with a turban on my head and carrying a
new Alcoran written by myself, a new sacred book.
Napoleon realized that, as he said, As soon as a man becomes king, he is a
separate being from his fellow-men. I always admired Alexanders (the Great) sound
political instinct which prompted him to proclaim his divine origin. Had I returned
from Moscow, he says, as a conqueror I should have had the world at my feet, all
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nations would have admired and blessed me. I might have withdrawn myself
mysteriously from the world, and popular credulity would have revived the fable of
Romulus; it would have said that I had been carried up to heaven to take my place
among the gods!...
He realized that our life and time were not appropriate for calling himself God.
He says, Now were I to declare myself the son of the Father Almighty and order a
thanksgiving service on the occasion, every fish-wife in Paris would jeer at me to my
face. No, the people are too civilized nowadays. There is nothing great left for me to
do!
He used the Catholic faith, as he himself says, Would you like me to invent
some new and unknown religion according to my fantasy? No, I hold a different view
on the matter. I need the old Catholic faith; it alone retains its grip on all hearts, and
alone can turn the hearts of the people towards me and remove all obstacles from my
path.
But on St. Helena he notes that he had aims beyond conquering the world. He
says, I should have governed the religious with the same facility as the political
world. I intended to exalt the Pope beyond measure, to surround him with grandeur
and honors. I should have succeeded in supressing all his anxiety for the loss of his
temporal power. I should have made an idol of him; he would have remained near my
person. Paris would have become the capitol of Christendom; and I should have
governed the religious as well as the political world.
And so we see some of these mystical ideas of Napoleon and other important
things. We have in him the first time in [the] modern age a world conqueror, someone
who consciously wanted to conquer the world and even perhaps set himself up as a
god. He saw himself as the successor of the Roman Empire, after he defeated the
Russians at Austerlitz in 1807 and the Germans in I806 -- in fact, the Germans were
so afraid that he wouId take the crown of the Holy Roman Empire that the Emperor of
Austria aboIished the Holy Roman Empire in 1806. Napoleon announced in 1807
after defeating the Russians that I am now the Roman emperor because I have
defeated the first Rome, the Holy Roman Empire, and the third Rome, which is
Moscow, and I am now the heir of both. And a third aspect is his attitude towards the
Jews. The age of revoIution was preceded immediately by much agitation in favor of
the Jews, especially on the part of very enlightened Jewish philosophers like Moses
Mendelssohn and the Iiberal radical Jews who wanted to abolish the separate ghettos
and so forth. In fact the Revolution gave a great deal of so-called freedom to the
Jews, in every place the Revolution is usualIy accompanied by emancipation of the
Jews. That, well go back to that later on, that aspect.
The most interesting thing about Napoleon and the Jews is that after he had
proclaimed himself Emperor, he called from all over the world a meeting of the
Sanhedrin, which was the Jewish high court which condemned Christ to death and had
not existed since the time of the fall of Jerusalem after the death of Christ. He called
back this organization into existence for one purpose: so that the Jewish people would
proclaim him to be emperor. Theres even an illustration of him at the Sanhedrin
meeting in order to proclaim him Emperor; it is in a book I lost.
One asks the question how these -- certainly theres many enlightened and
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modern ideas here; hes obviously a child of the Enlightenment -- wonders how this
whole idea of an empire, of a monarchy, a restored monarchy, fits in with the ideals of
the Revolution which is a democracy, and a state of equality. How does it fit? And
how could he be recognized as the carrier of the revolutionary ideal? In fact wherever
he went his armies were tremendously enthusiastic because they felt they had an
ideology; they were carrying the message of truth to other peopIes. ObviousIy, its
bound up with this chiliastic revolutionary ideal.
For now we wont say much more about it. But we find later on other examples
of this same phenomenon occurring again. But there are different strands of the
Revolution; and the strand which Napoleon most evoked was this, which weve talked
about before, the ideal of universal monarchy, which makes him one of the
forerunners of Antichrist. The very thought that he could be proclaimed a god after
conquering the world, that he would be conqueror of the world, one world ruler, that
he is the Roman Emperor, and that the Jews proclaim him as the emperor, that is,
almost messiah, shows that he has very definitely more than anyone before him in
modern times is a forerunner of Antichrist. And we will see later there is one other
person so far in modern history who had a similar function. In fact almost all these
things have the same ideas, and thats Hitler.
And this whole revolution beginning with the proclamation of the rights of man,
and equality through the bloody massacres and deliberate depopulation, proclamation
of Communism, the coming to power of one ruler who wanted to be ruler of the
world. All of this is a rehearsal for a future kingdom of this world.
And once Napoleon was removed and the monarchy was restored -- well see
that it was not a real restoration -- these revolutionary ideas begin to be much more
powerful; and the whole of the European intellectual class now becomes filled with
these ideas. They change a few ideas but the basic ideal remains the same. There are
some thinkers who go a little deeper into the question; some are more superficial. We
will examine the views of the various ones and also the revolutionary outbreaks which
they inspired. But to understand the Revolution we have to see it not as something
which is complete in itself but as something which is an attempt of breaking through
of the new forces, the new chiliastic forces. Later on these forces are able to take over
not just most of Europe, but now most of the world, because meanwhile this process
of apostasy, of the Mystery of Iniquity has gone much deeper and has entered into the
lives of now everybody in the world.
Lecture 7
THE REVOLUTION IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
We will begin this lecture with a quote from Metropolitan Anastassy, from his
memoirs, which is called, well, its just a collection of his memoirs on various topics.
We will begin this way because he was a profound churchman in the full tradition of
Orthodoxy, in whom, as in other great churchmen, great hierarchs, the spirit of the
Church is, as it were, incarnated; that is, they are the ones to whom we look for
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mature wisdom, not only on narrow Church questions, but on this whole question of
the Revolution for example. He comes from a Russia which had a particular, special
relation to the Revolution, as well see the next lecture. And what he says has
particular weight because it comes from outside, as it were, the main place where the
Revolution began. It comes from someone who was very deep, both in thought and
feeling. And he has a very interesting observation to make about the French
Revolution.
This part is called From Conversation with My Own Heart.i He says, In the
French Revolution, as in a mirror, the light-minded character of this people was
reflected. Its striving for posing, for beautiful phrases and gestures inspired by
vainglory. All the heroes and the ordinary activists in this Revolution, even the
most moderate and serious of them, the Gerondists, remind one of actors who
stand before the face of a numerous audience and think only about what their
contemporaries and their descendants will think of them. They gave themselves
over to orgies on the eve of being beheaded so as to show by this their faked
manliness of spirit. Many of them even strove to have themselves painted in the
carts taking them to the guillotine which was for them the last scene in this
world. None of them thought about their responsibility before God, before
history or before their own conscience in this fatal moment for the country.
This is a very profound judgment. And well see that it is even more true of the
nineteenth century which is filled with these revolutionary agents who are so posed
and so fake and you can look around you today and see the same thing. Everybody
comes up with a new plan for society; everybodys dreaming about who they are
going to bomb, how they are going to make a name for themselves, how they are
going to bring about the final revolution; and theyre all extremely shallow and
posing. And they have no basis, no idea of responsibility before God, no idea that they
are going to be called to account for their life -- nothing but this senseless fever they
have to spread the revolution. And they dont even know what its all about. Theyre
obviously just puppets in a play which is being played. They dont know who is the
author or where its going. And when theyre finally shot down themselves, they just
become, as even the Communists say, manure for the revolution, the future
happiness of mankind.
But we now will follow the example of such as Metropolitan Anastassy who
thought very deeply on the question of the Revolution, and try to get behind the ideas
and the thoughts that are going on among people. And see if we can understand why
these things happened, what the end of them is. We will see especially in the
nineteenth century, an age of egotists which probably has never been equaled before.
These posers and egotists. Everyone comes up with a new theory: its been revealed to
him, its the latest thing and the most fantastic idea. There was a great feeling of
freedom. You know, remember that Wordsworth
talked about it being alive in the dawn of the French Revolution.ii Everybody was so
overjoyed; its a new age thats coming. And this same feeling persists throughout this
early part of the nineteenth century when everybody comes up with a new social
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system. And they come up with the most fantastic schemes. If you go back now and
read, you can see this is a golden age for crackpots. They come up with ideas of
theocracy. There was a fantastic thinker, Poplardolevie, who reconstructed the ancient
Hebrew language and translated Genesis with a metaphysical interpretation of it. And
then he came up with an idea of a great theocracy.
And, by the way, this very same spirit is reflected in Greece where it came a
little bit later in the crackpot, Makrakis, at the end of the century, who thought he was
first one to prove the existence of the Holy Trinity by reason and so forth -- the same
idea, some kind of spirit of overwhelming pride, at the same time extremely shallow.
And this, of course, is totally foreign to Orthodoxy. And the reason it could come was
because Christianity was lost.
The period we come to now, this period -- actually its contemporaneous with
the Revolution itself. In fact, it begins just before the Revolution and carries on after
the Revolution. Its the period of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century.
Here we have many conflicting revolutionary ideas. Well examine a few of them in a
minute. And one wonders how are we to tell which are the important ideas. And the
key to that is looking at around us in the world today, because the revolution is the
historical process which has produced the world of today. And we can see the key
ideas by examining chiefly the one form of the revolution which is dominant today,
that is, Communism, and even threatens to swallow up the whole world, and also by
examining our own philosophical, spiritual environment in the free world to see what
it is that moves people in the free world.
Much of the thought in the nineteenth century would have seemed the
fantasies of some kind of crackpots, if Marxism had not conquered Russia and now
half the world and shown us that these ideas are very much a part of the spirit of our
own times. And theres definite reasons why theyve triumphed.
We will not try to trace any one revolutionary school, such is liberalism, or
socialism, communism, or any of the secret societies, even if this were possible,
because we want to understand the mind that gave these birth, that is, the
revolutionary mentality.
There are in this age, if possible, even more secret societies than existed in the
eighteenth century. And it becomes even ridiculous, there are so many of them. And
they, each one is involved with being a conspirator, of hiding its plan from the rest of
them, trying to gain dominance. And the ones who are in the lower ranks are afraid
theres a higher secret thats not been revealed to them. And theyre afraid that its not
what they want. And theyre going from one to the next. Theres one kind of group in
Italy which sits before bonfires in the darkness in the moonlight thinking about how
to unite Italy and make Italy the center of the world, revive the Roman Empire and all
kinds of fantastic things -- blood oaths, and all this kind of thing -- which especially
the young people of that Romantic Age were very inspired by.
Its not possible to see how influential each one of these little sects was.
Obviously they had a great part to play because in many of these revolutions, at the
right time, there were people who came and inspired the people to march the right
direction in order to get their revolutionary ideas across. But this is actually secondary
importance because whatever they achieved by their conspiracies would not have
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been able to be preserved had it not been for the fact that the spirit of the times was
receptive to it.
And thats what we want to examine, the spirit of the times, which is primary.
In the next lecture well also look at the conservative reaction against the
Revolution to see if we cant get a picture of the whole developing mentality of the
nineteenth century which produced the present world which we live in, which has
revolutionary ideas and governments standing against so-called conservatism. We
will see whether this can be called conservatism or not. In fact, well see some very
interesting revolutionary ideas in the middle of these conservatives. This world,
Well discuss chiefly the time of [the] post-Napoleonic age, because this is the time
when thinkers had to stop and ask themselves what was the meaning of the
Revolution and where do we go next.
The first thing that happened when Napoleon was overthrown and the
Revolution was crushed -- or so it looked, the whole of Europe presided over by the
magnificent, romantic Alexander from Russia [who] came to the West and proceeded
to reconstruct the society of Europe -- there was a political reaction; its called the
age of the political reaction. The Bourbon dynasty was restored under the brother of
Louis XVI, Louis XVIII, who was quite willing to live under the new conditions. And
it was not actually much of a restoration. It was a new idea, that is, a constitutional
monarchy. It was not the old absolutism of the eighteenth century. Therefore the
revolutionary ideas already gained somewhat of an acceptance.
This restoration meant that the churches were open; of course, they were
already opened in the time of Napoleon, but there was no more Napoleon to be
bringing the Revolution to everybody else. And there was somewhat the freedom of
the press where all kinds of wild ideas could be expressed and also the conservative
ideas. But underneath this whole society, the restored monarchy in France, there was a
strong undercurrent of revolutionary unrest -- not because the people were particularly
unhappy with their lot, although of course there were many grievances especially
because it was the age of rising industrialism and, of course, the lot of the workers got
worse and worse -- but mainly because these ideas were in the air. And just because
Napoleon was defeated, these ideas did not go away. They formed the climate of the
times, the spirit of the age.
In France there was one revolutionary outburst in 1830 in which the Bourbon
dynasty was finally chased away. And the poor Charles X had to leave his slippers
behind him as he fled in his coach to England. And the Orleans dynasty came in, I
believe, a cousin of the last Bourbon king. And he was very much a man of the
people, had even taking part in the Revolution, and called himself [king] by the grace
of God and the people, that is, he put them both together. Hes going to be both a
traditionalist and a revolutionary. And well see later on what Nicholas I in Russia
thought about that. But he in turn was chased out, and I think he left his slippers
behind, as the new Revolution in 1848 overthrew him.
Well look a little in the next lecture at what happened in that Revolution which
is actually a repetition of 1789 to 1793 -- and rather hilarious if you dont count all the
people that were killed -- and ended with the clown monarch Napoleon III who was
one of the most lightheaded monarchs probably Europe ever had, [who] ended up by
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rushing off to defeat the Germans, leaving Paris open. He lost all his armies and Paris
was taken by the Germans in the worst defeat France ever saw. But thats already in
the next lecture.
Most historians regard the history of the nineteenth century as the battle
between reaction -- summed up by the name of Metternich, the prime minister of
Austria and the Holy Alliance, that is, ail these nations who had the restored monarchs
-- against the revolution or freedom, as the workman and the bourgeoisie tried to gain
their freedom from the nobles and the kings. But this is a very superficial view. The
real battle is much deeper than that.
This time, not just the time after 1815 but the time before, a decade or two
before, the whole time of the Revolution and afterwards through the first half of the
nineteenth century, is the age of Romanticism. This is the time when the
Enlightenment ideas of reason, of humanitarianism, of Voltaire and Diderot, the rights
of man, the making [of] constitutions, thinking things through and coming up with
logical deductions which will save mankind -- all this is rejected. But it is rejected
only for its one-sidedness, many of the more positive ideas -- actually
humanitarian ideal, and the overthrowing of the old system of the absolutism -- are
not so much rejected. But theres rather an irrational feeling, which actually comes
straight from Rousseau, already in the middle of the eighteenth century, of a religion
of feeling and a sympathy for all kinds of mysterious things and mysticism. But now
this is reduced to this world. Theres a great deal of sympathy for the Middle Ages and
for the national past of every country, whereas the Enlightenment age was an
international age.
So you get people going around like the Grimm brothers to collect fairy tales, and the
folk songs and tales of the people.
And as far as the religion is concerned, of course, theres a great revival of
Catholicism; and it becomes now fashionable to be seen at the Mass. But at the same
time it becomes something new. Its not exactly like it was in the old regime. Its very
much of a this-worldly atmosphere about it, and a great revival of occultism for
several decades. Its at the same time, from before the Revolution.
And one can say that there is a search for some kind of new Christianity which will
harmonize with the philosophy of the Enlightenment, keep the best features of the
philosophy of the Enlightenment and reject the one-sidedness, such as, Voltaires
anti-Christianity and the atheism of the later thinkers.
This is the age of the great Romantic poets, the search for marvels, religion of
inspiration and enthusiasm, new revelations, and the poets being carried away by
their imagination -- poems and stories about ruins and moonlight and darkness and
all kinds of the darker side of life, the mysterious side.
This is the time of Caliostro, who, by the way, was mixed up with one the plots
to overthrow the king in 1789, and [Franz Anton] Mesmer the hypnotist. And in fact
one of the French writers at this time, [Johann Kaspar] Lavater, said that Mesmer
went around and laid hands on peoples heads, hypnotized them and healed them and
all kinds of things. And this one man said that this is the modern equivalent of the
Apostles laying on of the hands, which in our times comes out in the charismatic
movement. And San Martin, the unknown philosopher, as he was called, was mixed
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up with one of these lodges actually which helped inspire the revolution, got mixed
up very much with occultism. In fact, I met his son, Martiniste, some years ago, who
was, claimed to be eighty years old and looked much younger and has the secret of
long life and health and success; but there doesnt seem to be too much there, too
much spirituality.
One can say that this is the second age of Romance in the history of Europe,
the first one being the Middle Ages. In between these two ages there was the
development of the scientific world-view and the age of reason. But now comes the
reaction which produces back to something which something like the Middle Ages,
only now its going to be not within Catholicism that this romanticism comes out, but
beyond Catholicism.
There was a deep awareness in this period that the past, even though there was a
political restoration and a longing for the past, and the poetry written about the Middle
Ages, and everyone became enthusiastic about stained glass windows and so forth;
still there was an awareness that the past could not be recaptured, the old Europe, the
Old Regime was gone. And there was a deep undercurrent at this time, a longing for a
new unity, a new kind of golden age something like the Middle Ages where everyone
was inspired by a common ideal and art would flourish and the sciences would
progress harmoniously. And this very feeling, this desire for some kind of new unity
is, as well see, very much of a chiliastic idea. And in fact, we can say that this whole
period including the Revolution and the romanticism of the poets and artists, and the
mysticism of the sects and lodges, and as well also see even the Christian sects, is
part of one great outburst of chiliastic fervor.
There are at this time so many prophets, so many people whove gotten the
answer. Its been revealed to them what is the future of mankind, what is the truth.
This is like the movement of the earlier Anabaptists we already looked at a
little bit and those sects; only now it is on a much greater scale, because it enters not
only the sectarian, religious sphere but enters into the main sphere of philosophy and
politics.
In the eighteenth century there are many of these chiliastic sects, the Shakers,
the Rappites, and so forth. And in this very time a little bit later there come other
chiliastic sects, the Adventists, the Mormons and many, many others, the Irvingites,
and so forth. Well look at a few of them in a minute. And these are only a small
reflection of this attitude of mind which deeply penetrated the men of this time and
which goes on even today.
We will try to look at these all in a way together, because its usual to think that
the sectarian mentality is one thing; and the mentality which enlightened men, people
who to go to college and have degrees and so forth and are capable of rational
thought, they are something else. But well see here that in this time all these currents
are very much mixed up.
4. Example: German Romantic poet Novalis. Schenk: 13-15.
Well give as an example of this chiliastic mentality, a couple of quotes from
the German Romantic poet, Novalis, who wrote a novel, which I think is called Hans
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von Ertandinger, one of the early Romantic novels about the search for the
mysterious blue flower, in which he wrote a few things about his chiliastic ideas. He,
by the way, [and] the great thinkers who had a great deal to sort of inspire this
movement were all born about 1770 interestingly enough. Its the very year
Beethoven was born. Well see later on Saint-Simon, Owen, Fourier, these people,
and Novalis was also born in 1772, I believe, and died in 29, at the turn of the
century.
He [Novalis] said, Christendom had again to become living and active.... As
yet there is no Religion. We must first found a training school of genuine Religion.
Think ye that there is Religion? Religion must be made and produced through the
union of a number of men. The fullest germs of the new religion lie in Christianity, but
they also lie comparatively neglected. And in another passage: Who says that the
Bible is finished? May it not be that the Bible is in the process of growing? ...
[Novalis disciple wrote:] He wrote in 1797: Oh these blind people who are talking
about atheism! Does a theist as yet exist? Is any human intellect already master of the
idea of divinity?
...Novalis...saw in the Christian religion the germ of democracy. iii
-It is also, I think, highly significant that Novalis even anticipated the Utopian
and Marxian Socialist expectation that there will be no need for a legal order in the
society of the future, or at any rate that the number of laws will decrease, for: Laws
are the complement of imperfect characters.
...[In Novalis ] pamphlet Die Christenheit oder Europa ...We find in it the
same emphasis on the paramount importance of religion: It is impossible for secular
powers to find their balance; a third element, secular and transcendental at the same
time, can alone fulfil this task. ...Religion alone can again awaken all Europe, it alone
can safeguard the nations.
...Novalis, like so many Utopians, turned his eyes to the far distant past: Princes
referred their dispute to the father of Christianity [the Pope], and willingly cast down
their crowns and dignities at this feet. Here we have a typical example of a Utopia
attributed to a past period;... ...a new golden Period, with heavenly features, a
prophetic wonder-working, wound-healing one, comforting us and enkindling hopes
of eternal life. And in another passage: The old and new world are engaged in
warfare.... Perchance, in these events, as in the sciences, a more intimate and varied
connection between the European States is at hand. And Novalis ultimate aim was
that: Europe may again awaken and the states form but one. iv
D. Chiliasm in early Socialist Prophets the Utopian Socialists.
1. Owen. 1771-1858
a. life 5-7
b.
New Lanark (still exists unchanged today): Industrial community under
benevolent capitalist. 20,000 visitors 1815-1825, including Nicholas I. Largest cotton
spinning mill in Britain. 1500 employees. 12-hour day, low pay but many
ol(occupational?) benefits low rent, free medical care, schools, food at cost.
Produced order, neatness and regularity. Aspects of life: 158. But later he saw that
the factory wasn t the ideal.
c. Background of his further ideas in religious communitarianism millennial
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sects of 18th-19th century: Ephrata Community, Moravian Brethren, (and later


similar movements Mormonism, Adventism); especially influenced by
Shakers and Rappites, and tried his experiments by buying the Rappite town of
Harmony Indiana. Owen s was a secular continuation of an established
religious experiment.
d. New Harmony
Idyllic agricultural community described by a disciple 58-9. But radical ideas
end of family system p. 58-60. Sought, like other early Socialists, a science of man.
Owenism did not degenerate into a sect had sectarian tone from the beginning.
Shakers and Swedenborgians became Owenites and Owenites became Shakers ex.
p. 108. One disciple wanted to be made bishop 124. Owen felt himself [to be an]
agent of a mission 134.
e. Owen in America: 106. New Harmony described 164-5. Enthusiasm
quickly died out. Communism experiments in American in 1840 were
Fourierist.
f. Illustrations p. 20, 84, 100 a-b, 116 a-b, 132
a-b.
g. Owen is carried away by spiritism 250-1.
2.
3. Fourier 1772-1837
a. Life: Son of wealthy cloth-merchant, good education, trained in France,
Germany, Italy. Inherited much property from his father, but lost it in the
Revolution 1803, published article on European(?) politics which
interested Napoleon. Became small businessman, spent leisure on his
work on new organization of society.
b. Ideas: against individualism and competition (i. e., Liberalism),
new theory of cooperation for the harmonious development of
human nature. Free development of human nature through
unrestrained indulgence of passions, which will result in harmony
(this discovery he thought, ranked him with Newton, discovery of
gravity - so St. Simon also). Wanted to reorganize all of society on
this basis society to be composed of phalansteres with 1600
people each, common building (phalanstere) and soil. Phalansteres
of uniform design. Dirty work done by children, no one required to
do anything he didn t like. Marriage abolished, new arrangement
substituted for it.
c. No one paid attention to his first two works, his third work 1829 The New
Industrial World began to attract disciples; he attacked Owen and St. Simon in
The Charlatanism of Two Sects. A disciple started a community in 1832, but it
quickly failed; Fourier waited in vain for a wealthy capitalist to give money for
new experiments.
d.
Made fantastic prophecies of future paradise on earth: sea would turn into
lemonade, men would be 7 feet tall, live to 144, have 120 years of free love. Men
would progress, there would be 30 million scientists and great as Newton, and 30
million poets as great as Shakespeare.
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e. Brook Farm in Massachusetts, started 1841 to combine thinker and worker,


became Fourierist phalanx 1845, but collapsed by 1847. Dostoyevsky and
others influenced.
3. St. Simon 1760-1825
a. Life: pp. xix-xxv.
-Claude Henri de Rouvroi, Compte de Saint-Simon, who was born in 1760 and
died in 1825, was in a sense the child of both the Old Regime and the philosophy of
the Enlightenment. v Saint-Simon fought at the battle of Yorktown for industrial
liberty, and in his early twenties he devised plans for the building of canals to join the
Pacific and the Atlantic in Nicaragua and to link Madrid with the sea. Upon his return
to France, he used his wealth to gather as his tutors the most eminent scientists of
France. His soon-spent wealth was restored during the Revolution when he speculated
in church lands, though he consequently almost lost his head under Robespierre. Once
more he surrounded himself with the savants of the time, traveled to Germany and
England, and unsuccessfully tried to marry Mme. de Stael. Slowly his ideas on
scientific method, industrialism, and the application of science to social organization
took systematic shape; and from 1802 onward, they appeared in a steady stream of
pamphlets and books. Falling again poverty-stricken, Saint-Simon became dependent
on the charity of a former servant. After 1810, he was surrounded by a following of
young engineers from the Ecole Polytechnigue, chief among whom were Augustin
Thierry and Auguste Compte, who acted as his secretaries and collaborated in his
writings. Apparently disappointed by his lack of success in persuading the rulers and
the intelligentsia to support his proposal for social reconstruction, Saint-Simon
attempted suicide in 1823. His last work, the New Christianity, with its religion of
human brotherhood, appeared in the year of his death, 1825. vi Saint-Simon
acknowledged [Condorcet] as one of the strongest influences on his own thought. [In
Condorcet s writings] Saint-Simon saw the perfection of scientific methodology as
the basis of human progress.... In a last phase, Saint-Simon in the New Christianity
called for a religion based upon brotherly love and concerned with achieving bless on
earth. The basic concern of religion was to be the speediest amelioration of the lot of
the poor. vii The term Saint-Simonianism refers here to the disciples of Saint-Simon.
It must be made clear that Saint-Simonianism, while maintaining certain basic tenets,
from its beginning until its dissolution, continuously underwent changes in others. Yet
a basic unity existed in its attempt to put an end to what was regarded at the
revolutionary situation of the age. viii The theory was expounded in a series of public
lecturesheld biweekly after December 17, 1828, and known as the
Doctrine of Saint-Simon. An Exposition. First Year (1828-29)....
While this second phase of the Saint-Simonian movement had a general unity of
thought, there emerged slowly a stronger religious and political emphasis which
tended to subordinate the earlier scientific and industrial interest.... This new emphasis
led to the establishment of a hierarchically organized Saint-Simonian church in late
December, 1829. The doctrine was propagated through public sermons and
teachings in Paris, by mission sent to the provinces and to Belgium, by pamphlets, an
above all through the pages of the weekly Organisateur and the daily Globe. The
Globe had been the famous liberal paper of the twenties and became Saint-Simonian
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in November, 1830, after the conversion of its manager, Pierre Leroux, to the new
religion. In the Globe, the Saint-Simonians received their greatest degree of
attention.... ix
The Saint-Simonian church foreshadowed the basic structure and philosophy
of the Religion of Humanity of Compte in his later years. Buchez, the later Catholic
socialist, was a member of the Saint-Simonian hierarchy. Heine and Franz Liszt
regularly attended the Sunday meetings. Carlyle and Mill corresponded with the
society. Sainte-Beuve and George Sand expressed their keen interest and approval,
while Lamartine, Balzac, and Lamennais watched with mixed emotions. Stendhal,
Benjamin Constant, and Fourier found the new philosophy sufficiently important to
attack it. Even Goethe, while criticizing the Saint-Simonian collectivism...regularly
received the Globe....
The new religion claimed over 40,000 adherents by the middle of 1831 and was well
known to every educated person in Europe. x
The disintegration of this second phase, during which Saint-Simonianism was
concerned primarily with social reorganization, was precipitated by the conflict within
the movement on the question of woman. While there had been general agreement
that woman, traditionally exploited like the worker, should be emancipated socially, a
new orientation emerged under the leadership of Enfantin which increasingly
emphasized the importance of the question of woman, finally advocated free love, and
identified the outcome of history with the emancipation and sanctification of the
flesh. this heightened feminism led to a schism, to the rupture of Bazard with the
movement, the consequent departure of other members, and to legal persecutions after
January, 1832. On April 20, 1832, the last issue of the Globe appeared, and the second
phase of the movement s history may be said to have ended.
In the third phase characterized by heightened feminism and pantheistic
religious thought after 1832, the concern with social and political problems lessened.
The Saint-Simonians were now less interested in propagating the faith than in
preparing for a more propitious time by the education of a hierarchy. They withdrew
to a monastic life. The trials which resulted in the imprisonment of Enfantin further
weakened the movement, which dissolved as an organized group after Enfantin s
departure to Egypt in search of the Woman Messiah. Later in the century, the SaintSimonians were to be prominent in financial and industrial projects, such as the
creation of the Crdit Mobilier, the extension of the Frenchrailroad net, and the
construction of the Suez Canal. xi
b. Influences secular chiliasm, especially Lessing [Gotthold Ephraim
Lessing] with philosophy of eternal striving and religion of the heart (and
through him, Joachim of Fiore). Lessing: If God held concealed in his right
hand all truth, and in His left only the ever eager impulse after truth, (even
though coupled with the condition that I should ever and always err,) and said to
me, Choose! , I should reverently take his left hand and say, Father give unto
me! The absolute truth
is for Thee alone? xii But believed in revelation which brought human race from
lower to higher stages. Man will progress to the state of not requiring belief in
future life to do good, but will to do good for itself then will the eternal gospel,
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the 3rd Age of the Holy Spirit, come! Freemasons his ideal, who wait for the
sunrise of the new age, and throw down barriers of religion, the state, and
nationality.
(So: a romantic even in age of Enlightenment.) God is the soul of the world.
Thus: Owen influenced by sectarians; Fourier by revolutionaries, St.Simon
by chiliastic tradition of Joachim of Fiore.
c. Philosophy: New Age 4;
...There have been no more philosophic doctrines worthy of the name than
there have been general states of mankind, but the phenomenon of an orderly social
order has occurred only twice in the series of civilization to which we belong and
which forms an uninterrupted chain extending to our own time, namely in antiquity
and in the Middle Ages. The new general state which we proclaim for the future will
form the third link in this chain; it will not be identical with its predecessors but will
offer striking analogies to them with respect to order and unity. It will follow upon the
various periods of the crisis that has been disturbing us for three centuries; it will
appear finally as a consequence of the law of the development of mankind. xiii
cause of today s evil: 11.
...We shall state that the cause of evil is to be sought in the lack of unity in social
outlook; and the remedy will be found in the discovery of this unity. xiv
We live in ruins of the Middle Ages: 18.
We dwell in the midst of the rubble, the living rubble of medieval society
which continues to bemoan its fate. xv
We must not just negate the Middle Ages 22-3-4.
-It was believed that the solution of the problem consisted in putting a minus
sign before all the terms of the formula of the Middle Ages, but this strange solution
could only engender anarchy.
We, who accept neither the Middle Ages nor constitutionalism, leap beyond
the limits of the present.... The time is approaching when the nations will abandon
the banners of a disorderly and thoughtless liberalism to enter lovingly into a state of
peace and happiness, abandoning mistrust and recognizing that legitimate power can
exist on earth. xvi
Unitary view of future 24-5.
The doctrine that we are proclaiming is to take possession of the entire man,
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and to give the three great human faculties a common goal and a harmonious
direction. By its means, the sciences will make unified progress towards the most
speedy development; industry, regulated in the interest of all, will no longer present
the frightening spectacle of an arena; and the fine arts, once more animated by ardent
sympathy, will reveal to us the feelings of enthusiasm in a common life, whose gentle
influence will make itself felt in the most secret joys of private life. xvii
Times are fulfilled 40.
Rid yourselves of all fear, gentlemen, and do not struggle against the torrent
which carries you onward to a happy future; put an end to the uncertainty which
weakens your hearts and strikes you with impotence. Embrace the altar of
reconciliation lovingly, for the times have been fulfilled and the hour is about to
strike when, according to the Saint-Simonian transformation of the Christian word,
all shall be called and all
shall be chosen. xviii
Old must be destroyed 50.
For the happiness of mankind requires that the work of destruction, to which
this method has been applied with such
effect, be completed. xix
New and final state 56-7.
-...[T]oday mankind is traveling toward a final state which will be exempted
from the long and painful alternatives and under which progress will take place
without interruption, without crises, in a continuous, regular, and constant fashion. We
are marching toward a world where religion and philosophy, cult and the fine arts,
dogma and science will no longer be divided....The destruction of the former order of
things has been as radical as possible in the absence of the revelation of the new order
to be
established. xx
Goal: universal association = brotherhood 58,
...[T]his continuous succession of seeming grandeur and apparent decline,
commonly called the vicissitudes of mankind, is nothing but the regular series of
efforts made by mankind to attain a final goal.
This goal is universal association, which is to say, the association of all men
on the entire surface of the globe in all
spheres of their relationships. xxi
Christianity failed 60, 71.
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Christianity, whose principle and expansive force have long since been
exhausted, embraced in its love and sanctified by its law only one of the modes of
human existence, and did not succeed in establishing its rule -- now failing -- over
more than aportion of mankind. xxii
The entire world is progressing toward unity of doctrine and action. This is our
most general profession of faith. This is the direction which a philosophical
examination of the past permits us to trace. Until the day when this great concept,
born of the genius of our master, together with its general developments, can become
the direct object of the endeavors of the human spirit, all previous social progress
must be considered as preparatory, all attempts at organization as partial and
successive initiations to the cult of unity and to the reign of order over the entire
globe, the territorial possession of the great
human family. xxiii
Future is religion 202-3.
-We certainly do not claim to be heroes for introducing the foundations of a
new religion to you. In this indulgent, or rather indifferent, century, all opinions, as we
know, can appear without danger, especially when they seem not to go beyond the
narrow confines of a philosophic school. But we also know that we are speaking to
men who consider themselves superior because they are unbelievers, and who smile
scornfully at all religious ideas, which they regulate to the dark ages, to what they call
the barbarism of the Middle Ages, and to the childhood of mankind. We do not fear to
brave this smile. Voltairian sarcasm and the arrogant scorn of modern materialism can
dispel from some men s hearts the vague sentimentality common today. They can
frighten away and confound that type of individual religiosity which in vain seeks
forms to express itself, but they are powerless to destroy deep conviction.
Yes, gentlemen, we have come here to expose ourselves to this sarcasm and
scorn. For following Saint-Simon and in his name, we come to proclaim that mankind
has a religious future; that the religion of the future will be greater and more powerful
than all those in the past; that it will, like those which preceded it, be the synthesis of
all conceptions of mankind and, moreover, of all modes of being. Not only will it
dominate the political order, but the political order will be totally a religious
institution; for nothing will be conceived of outside of God or will develop outside of
His law. Let us add finally that this religion will embrace the entire world because the
law of God is universal. xxiv
Science and religion 206, 266.
Take the religious standpoint, but one more elevated and broader than any
mankind has yet attained. As long as science preserves its atheistic character, which
is considered essential to it, science will not give expression to man s faculty to
know successively and progressively the laws by which God governs the world: in
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brief, the providential plan. None of the discoveries upon which atheism, when
threatened, relies will be able to escape the formula: This is how God manifests
himself.
No, gentlemen, it is not the destiny of science, as many seem to believe, to be
the eternal enemy of religion and constantly to restrict religion s realm in order some
day entirely to dispossess it. On the contrary, science is called upon to extend and
constantly to strengthen the realm of religion, since each of science s advances is to
give man a broader view of God and of His plans for mankind. xxv
We foresaw a time, no longer distant, when the sciences, freed from the
influence of the dogmas of criticism and viewed in a much broader and general
fashion than they are today, would no longer be considered antagonistic to religion,
but rather as the means given to the human mind to know the laws by which God
governs the world; the providential plan. xxvi
Tribute to Revolution s work of destruction 208-9.
-We have shown previously that critical epochs can be divided into two distinct
periods: one forms the beginning of those epochs during which society, united by a
fervent faith in the doctrines of destruction, acts in concert to overthrow the former
religious and social institution; the other comprises the interval separating destruction
from reconstruction during which men, disgusted with the past and the uncertainties
of the future, are no longer united by any faith or common enterprises. What we have
said concerning the absence of morality in critical periods refers only to the second of
the two periods which they include, but not at all to the first, or to the men who figure
in it and who, through some sort of inconsistency, preach hatred through love; call for
destruction while believing to be building; provoke disorder because they desire
order; and establish slavery on the altar they erect to liberty. Gentlemen, let us admire
these men. Let us pity them merely for having been given the terrible mission which
they have fulfilled with devotion and love for mankind. Let us pity them, for they
were born to love and their entire life was dedicated to hate. But let us not forget that
the pity with which they inspire us should be a lesson to us; that it should increase our
desires and confirm our hopes in a better future -- in a future in which the men who
are capable of love will ceaselessly be able to apply their love. xxvii
Man must have faith 211.
Mankind never lacks faith. One will no more have to ask whether man has the
inclination to believe than whether he will some day renounce love. Rather, it is
merely a question of knowing on which men and ideas he will bestow his confidence
and for what guarantees he will ask before abandoning himself to them. xxviii
New prophet 213.
We do not hesitate to say with you that what is not atheism today is ignorance
and superstition. But if we want to heal mankind of this wound, if we want it to
abandon the beliefs and practices which we consider unworthy of it, if we want it to
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leave the Church of the Middle Ages, we must open the Church of the future. Let us
stand ready, as de Maistre has said, for a tremendous event in the divine order toward
which, as all must notice, we are marching in an accelerated speed. Let us say with
him that there is no longer religion on earth and that mankind cannot remain in this
state. But more fortunate than de Maistre, we shall no longer wait for the man of
genius whom he prophesies and who, according to him, shall soon reveal to the world
the natural affinity of religion and science. Saint-Simon has appeared. xxix
Religion of future 265.
While proclaiming that religion is destined to assert its rule over society, we
certainly are as far from holding that any of the religious institutions of the past should
be re-established as we are from claiming to lead society back to the old state of war
or slavery. We proclaim a new moral and political state. This is just as thoroughly a
new religious state: for to us religion, politics, and morals are merely different names
for the same fact.... The religion of the future is called upon to take its place in the
political order; but to be exact, when considered in its totality, the political institution
of the future must be a religious institution. xxx
d. Importance: saw new world view must be religious. Socialism is not
enough there must be a synthesis of politics-science-religion (confined field
theory of mind). Today we see the great defect of Marxism -- it is not religious
and mankind must have religion, as St. Simon saw. This New Christianity is a
thorough attempt to complete the process begun in the Middle Ages: to improve
on Christianity.

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Lecture 8
MEANING OF REVOLUTION:
Now, in order to get a full picture of the meaning of the revolution of our
times, we will look at a number of thinkers in the nineteenth century who were
called reactionaries, people who were against the revolution. Because, by
seeing what arguments were brought against the revolution, and by seeing how a
number of them themselves were influenced by deeper ideas which
revolutionaries shared, we will get a deeper understanding of how deep this
revolution goes.
The new order in Europe in 1815, after Napoleon was overthrown, was
the reaction, the Holy Alliance, that is, the monarchs of Europe, were restored.
And there was a definite reaction. Revolutionary movements were discouraged
and even squashed. Russia took a leading part in this -- even Tsar Alexander,
who was [under a] very Masonic influence in his early years. Later on, after this
time, after this Congress in Vienna, he began to understand that revolution was a
serious business and that Christianity was quite other than he pictured it. And
especially under the influence of the Archimandrite Photius who persuaded him
the Masons were out to destroy his kingdom. And [warned him against] all these
Protestants who were filtering in, and the Bible society. And when there was a
rebellion in Spain, 1820, he volunteered to send a hundred thousand Cossacks to
squash it. And the other powers of Europe decided this was too risky, that theyd
better let the French take care of it. And so the French did take care of it, and
squashed the rebellion. But from that time on the Russian Tsars became very
aware of their responsibility to fight the revolution, especially inside Russia and,
where possible, outside Russia. With one exception, that is, when the Greek
rebellion broke out against the Turks, the Russians supported it.
And later on in 27-28 when the Turks threatened to take over the Greek
kingdom again, Tsar Nicholas, the arch-conservative, came to the aid of the
Greeks, even though Metternich the great statesman warned him that they were
also Masons and rebels just like the rest of them. And he said, But, anyway,
theyre Orthodox; and we come to the aid of the Orthodox kingdoms.xxxi And
owing to a great deal to the Russian Tsars, Greece has a kingdom today as an
independent state; theyre not under the Turks.
Metternich
The leading statesman of this time in the west of Europe was Metternich.
M-E-T-T-E-R-N-I-C-H, the foreign minister of Austria who was the spokesman
for the conservative movement, although he himself was not quite as reactionary
as hes painted to be. Theres a brief description of his basic philosophy here in
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these books on the post-revolutionary epoch.


He also was born in the 70s, 1773, and died in 1859. The offspring of a
Catholic noble family in the Rhineland, he witnessed as a youth the Jacobin
excesses, that is, revolutionary excesses, at Strassburg which confirmed his
contempt for mob-democracies and his faith in European society founded on
Latin civilization consecrated by Christian faith and embellished by time. He
grew up with a deep reverence for tradition.... The Old Rgime in its last days
produced in him its ablest if not its noblest representative. He was a fine flower of
an age that is now only a memory: a polished and courtly aristocrat, cool, urbane
and imperturbable, a patron of the arts, a diplomat of first rank, a lover of beauty,
order and tradition, something of a cynic perhaps, but always polite and
charming.... [H]e entered the Austrian diplomatic service and made his reputation
by worsting Napoleon in the critical days of 1813 after the retreat from Moscow.
After the Emperors fall he reigned as prime minister of Europe until the
Revolution of 1848 overthrew him.xxxii
He saw that he was living in an age of transition; the old order, which had
seemed so firm and secure, was everywhere dissolving and none could divine what
was to take its place. Before a new equilibrium was attained, a period of anarchy
and chaos must intervene. Metternichs life work was to stave off collapse as long
as possible and maintain stability for the time at whatever cost. He was fully alive
to the impermanent character of his achievements, remarking bitterly that he spent
his days in propping up worm-eaten institutions, that he should have been born in
1700 or 1900, for he never fitted into the revolutionary
Europe of the nineteenth century. The future, he knew, was with democracy and
nationalism, and all that he held sacred -- monarchy, Church, aristocracy,
tradition -- was doomed, but it was his duty to hold on, to retreat if need be to the
very last line of defense before giving up.xxxiii
So thats this statesman, who wrote his memoirs also, a very conservative
man. He was against what he called the presumptuous men,xxxiv these
revolutionaries who were constantly rising up with their egotistic theories that
they were going to remake society. He was overthrown in 1848 in the new wave
of revolution which swept over the whole of Europe.
Another one of the chief -- there are actually three chief conservative
philosophers at this time, thinkers: one in England, one in France, one in Spain. In
England, the conservative is Edmund Burke, who was one of the first ones to
protest against the Revolution already in 1790 when he wrote these reflections on
the Revolution in France, which is a book which inspired many of these new neoconservatives. Briefly, some of his views are set forth here in one of his text books.
In this book, Reflections on the Revolution, he says: Is it in destroying and
pulling down that skill is displayed? Your mob, that is, revolutionaries, can do
this as well at least, as your assemblies. The shallowest understanding, the rudest
hand, is more than equal to that task. Rage and frenzy will pull down more in half
an hour than prudence, deliberation and foresight can build up in a hundred
years.... At once to preserve and to reform is quite a different thing. A spirit of
innovation is generally the result of a selfish temper and confined views. People
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will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors....
By a constitutional policy working after the pattern of nature, that is, we English,
we transmit our government and our privileges, in the same manner in which we
enjoy and transmit our property and our lives. The institutions of policy, the goods
of fortune, the gifts of Providence are handed down to us, and from us, in the same
course and order. Our political system is placed in a just correspondence and
symmetry with the order of the world, wherein, by the disposition of a stupendous
wisdom, molding together the great mysterious incorporation of the human race,
the whole, at one time, is never old, or middle-aged, or young, but, in a condition
of unchangeable constancy, moves on through the varied tenor of perpetual decay,
fall, renovation, and progression. Thus, by preserving the method of nature in the
conduct of the State, in what we improve, we are never wholly new; in what we
retain, we are never wholly obsolete.... A disposition to preserve, and an ability to
improve, taken together, will be my standard of a statesman.xxxv
Of course these are very sensible words, spoken against people who talk
about novelty for the sake of novelty and show that they dont know how bring it
about. And when they do bring it about, they really(?) upset the whole society. But,
of course, he was an Englishman; what his idea of conservatism is, is preserving
whatever we have. And whatever we have is the English monarchy with the
developing already idea of democracy. At that time it was still quite conservative;
only the aristocrats had the right to vote, the upper classes. And the parliament was
not at all representative of the whole people, it was gradually evolving in that
direction. And, of course, he was undoubtedly an
Anglican, and already thats a falling away even from Catholicism. Catholicisms a
falling away from Orthodoxy. And you can evolve
a new religion of Anglicanism. It means, even though hes very conservative,
theres no underlying principle which he can really rely on. And its only a matter
of time until, as we see, this kind of conservatism can evolve into something which
is quite democratic and already utopian. So, this kind of conservatism will not go
very far.
Donoso Cortes
But theres a second thinker of this time a little bit later, born 1809, died in
l853, who lived in Spain. His name is [Juan] Donoso Cortes. I think he was a
prince or a count or something. He is not too well known in the West, although
one of his books has been translated into English. And he is the most philosophical
of all the people in the West who wrote about, against the Revolution. He wrote
his great book in 1852, called
Essays on Catholicism, Liberalism, and Socialism. Hes a marqus, Marqus
of Valdegamas.
And he is most significant because he clearly saw that this revolution is not
some kind of an aimless thing; it has definite purpose behind it. And he even said
that the revolution is theological. In order to defeat it, you must have a different
theology.xxxvi
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He was especially against the great anarchist of his time, Proudhon, whom
well talk in the next lecture. Proudhon, well see, is quite profound, more
profound than many other revolutionaries. And he [Cortes] quotes even
Proudhon, at the very opening of this book. He says, its called How a
Great
Question of Theology is Always Involved in Every Great Political Question:
In his Confessions of a Revolutionist Monsieur
Proudhon has written these remarkable words: It is wonderful how we ever
stumble on theology in all our political questions!
There is nothing here to cause surprise except the surprise of Monsieur Proudhon.
Theology, inasmuch as it is the science of God, is the ocean which contains and
embraces all sciences, as God is the ocean which contains and embraces all
things.xxxvii7 And this whole book is an exposure of liberal[ism], first of mainly
socialism as being anti-God. And liberalism he doesnt even have much respect for
at all, because he sees its only a halfway between socialism and monarchy. And
there one book here he quotes somehow excerpts from this book [Viereck].
As Metternich called these revolutionaries the
presumptuous men, Donoso Cortes called them the self-worshipping men.xxxviii
And he liked them better than the liberals because they had their own dogmas at
least. You can fight against them on dogmatic grounds. He saw that the ending of
religious influence on politics, that is, the atheist revolution, would produce in the
future the most gigantic and destructive despotism ever known. In fact, in one of
his talks before the Parliament in Spain, 1852, he told them that the end of the
revolution is Antichrist, we can see on the horizon in the next century. In that
respect hes quite profound. Here he gives some general quotes on the liberals and
socialists.
The liberal school, he said, ...is placed between two seas, whose
constantly advancing waves will finally overwhelm it, between socialism and
Catholicism.... It cannot admit the constituent sovereignty of the people without
becoming democratic, socialistic, and atheistic, nor admit the actual sovereignty of
God without becoming monarchical and Catholic....xxxix
This school is only dominant when society is threatened with dissolution, and
the moment of its authority is that transitory and fugitive one, in which the world
stands doubting between Barabbas and Jesus, and hesitates between a dogmatical
affirmation and a supreme negation. At such a time society willingly allows itself
to be governed by a school which never affirms nor denies, [italics in original] but
is always making
distinctions.... xlSuch periods of agonizing doubt can never last any great length of
time. Man was born to act, and will resolutely declare either for Barabbas or Jesus
and overturn all that the sophists have attempted to establish.... The socialist
schools -- whom we always think [of] as Marx, Proudhon, Saint-Simon, Owen,
Fourier, and all those thinkers -- possess great advantages over the liberal school,
precisely because they approach (to state) directly all great problems and
questions, and always give a peremptory and decisive solution. The strength of
socialism consists in its being a system of theology, and it is destructive only
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because it is a satanic theology.


The socialist schools, as they are theological, will prevail over the liberal
because the latter is anti-theological and skeptical. But they themselves, on
account of their satanic element, will be vanquished by the Catholic school which
is at the same time theological and divine. The instincts of socialism would seem
to agree with our affirmations, since it hates
Catholicism, while it only despises liberalism.xli
And its history seems to prove him true, because indeed Communism takes over
the world and democracy becomes more and more radical and more and more
utopian in order to compete with socialism. Again, he says:
The Catholics affirm that evil comes from man, and redemption from God;
the socialists affirm that evil comes from society and redemption from man. The
two affirmations of Catholicism are sensible and natural, namely, that man is man
and performs human works, and that God is God, and performs divine acts. The
two affirmations of socialism assert that man understands and executes the designs
of God, and that society performs the works proper to man. What, then, does
human reason gain when it rejects Catholicism for socialism? Does it not refuse to
receive that which is evident and mysterious in order to
accept that which is at once mysterious and absurd?xlii
Now his reasoning is quite straight. He had a few thoughts on Russia also.
He saw that he believed that Russia, he was very afraid of the Russian peril. He
thought that Russia was going to overwhelm the West. And after overwhelming
the West, it would drink the poison of the Revolution itself and die just like
Europe.
DeMaistre
Well see what the next thinker thinks about Russia. This next one, who is
probably the best known of the radical conservatives, the real reactionaries, is Josef
de Maistre, D-E-M-A-I-S-T-R-E, who was actually not a Frenchman but a
Sardinian, although he spoke French, its a French- speaking kingdom. In fact he
was ambassador from Sardinia to St. Petersburg, during the time of Napoleon, and
after Napoleon.
He was born in 1753, died in 1821. He is the apologist for the divine right of
kings, in the eighteenth century tradition. In fact, he even got somewhat
embarrassed because his book on the divine right of kings was published without
his knowledge. He wrote it several years earlier and [it] was published just at the
time when the restored Bourbon king, Louis XVIII accepted the Constitution. And
therefore this king thought he was against him. And of course he accepted and
compromised finally, but he set forth the principle of divine right. The aim of his
philosophy, and of conservative philosophy, according to him, is absolutely to kill
the whole spirit of the eighteenth century. You see, hes quite bold. No compromise
with Voltaire, Rousseau, the Revolution, nothing. The answer to the Revolution, he
says, is the Pope and the executioner.
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Quote Viereck p. 29-32.


In fact, he has a whole page in one of his books in which he praises the
man, the executioner with the axe in his hand who
comes home at night to his wife with a clean conscience because he has done the
duty of society.xliii
He is actually quite, himself, rationalistic. Its just that he starts in a
different place. He starts with absolute Catholicism.
And hes rather a cold thinker, but very astute, very clear thinking. He can see
that these other rationalists, or, atheist rationalists, begin without God and
therefore they end in absurdity.
He wrote one book on God in society, came out during Napoleons time.
And theres a few excerpts here well quote from him:
One of the gravest errors of a century which embraced them all, see how
immediately he leaps on the eighteenth century, was to believe that a political
constitution could be written and created a priori, whereas reason and experience
agree that a constitution is a divine work and that it is precisely the most
fundamental and most essentially constitutional elements in the a nations laws
that cannot be written. xliv
[This] quote is very profound because obviously these countries of Europe
had an orderly government, their own traditions. An absolute monarch is, of
course, not absolute because he is always hedged about, first of all by the church,
then by his nobles, then by what the people want; and no absolute monarch was
ever just some kind of absolute despot except for the revolutionary despots, who
have no kind of tradition to stop them. And, of course, the constitution is not a
piece of paper. Its something which comes out of the experience of a whole
nation, based largely on religion. Again he says, Everything therefore brings us
back to the general rule: Man cannot make a constitution, and no legitimate
constitution can be written. [Emphasis in original] The corpus of fundamental
laws that must constitute a civil or religious society have never been written and
never will be written. This can only be done when a society is already constituted,
yet it is impossible to spell out or explain in writing certain individual articles; but
almost always these declarations are the effect or the cause of very great evils and
always cost the people more than they are worth.xlv From that point of view, hes
quite wise. These people, who think theyre all of a sudden going to put down a
whole new government on paper, always end up by creating despotism, having to
revise the constitution, finally abolishing the constitution, [and] establishing some
kind of new monarch like Napoleon.
But we see in this DeMaistre, who was the most fanatical anti-revolutionary,
we see a very interesting thing. Because he was so very anti-revolutionary and the
same time was very rational, he came to new conclusions which were not in the
European philosophy of the past. He saw that revolution was a very strong
movement, and you had to have something very strong to oppose it. And therefore,
he became the apologist for the Pope. And in fact, he said, Without the Pope
[Sovereign Pontiff] there is no [real] Christianity.xlvi In fact, he said, The Pope in
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himself is Christianity,xlvii as if the Pope in himself entirely represents


Christianity.So his position of being an anti-traditional, being menaced by the
revolution, leads him to a new kind of rationalist absolutism -- the absolutism of
the Pope. In fact, he was one of the chief people whose ideas related to, lead to the
doctrine of papal infallibility, proclaimed in 1870, which is something new.The
Catholics didnt have it before. They say it developed out of the past. It was only
then against the Revolution that they had to proclaim something new: that is, the
Pope himself is the one outward standard you can see, which will protect you from
the Revolution. It is quite a long book. I have the French edition of the book on the
Pope by DeMaistre.
He talks about all kinds -- the Russian Church also is here. And well see
what he said about the Russian Church here. But this is one of the leading
textbooks of Ultramontanism, so-called, that is, the absolute infallibility of
the Pope. But its something new even in Catholic tradition as an outward,
absolutely external and clear standard which you can oppose to revolution,
because he saw the tradition is dying off, the Catholic traditions dying off,
and you have to have some kind of a absolute monarch to save it. And its
very logical. Well see later on what
Dostoyevsky has to say about this.
This book of his, on the Pope, was conceived as an answer to another book
which was printed at that time 1816 by the Russian minister Sturdza, S-T-U-R-DZ-A, in which he printed in French, declaring, to the great chagrin of DeMaistre,
that the Roman Church was schismatic and only the Orthodox Church was the true
Church of Christ. And he was so upset by this, because for him Catholicism is the
one thing which is against revolution. And these Russians, this barbarous country,
dares to say that they are the one Church. In fact, he described Russia as a country
constantly lying in laziness, which only wakes up, stirs once in a while, in order to
throw out some kind of blasphemy against the Pope. He felt that the Western
peoples -- in fact, he accused the Russians of having missed the whole
development of Western civilization. And he does not see that that whole
development is what led to the Revolution, because he puts it back only to the
Renaissance. The Middle Ages is fine; thats the very peak as far as he is
concerned. And he says the one big thing missing in Russia is the idea of
universalism, which is represented by the Pope. Well see what Dostoyevsky says
-- [a] very profound thing -- about this very universalism.
Tsar Nicholas I
Now we have a different kind of thing, because now we discuss the
question of the traditionaIism, anti-revolutionism in
Russia. Well start first with Nicholas I, and later on have some more general
comments on this anti-revolutionary tradition in Russia.
As I said in the last lecture, Nicholas I was an exemplary monarch in the
pure tradition of Russian absolutism. There is no constitution, no parliament. The
king reigns supreme, Tsar reigns supreme. He was familiar with the Revolution.
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He went to see Owen, his experiment. He was very interested in making better the
lot of the people. In this time [the] Industrial Revolution was even slightly coming
to Russia, but much more in the West. And he studied the Revolution carefully and
studied the doings of Louis XVI and already had a quite conscious view of what he
was going to do.
We will quote some of the statements here from this book by [Nicholas]
Talberg, who was a late professor in Jordanville. And as we now come to
Russia, well see something different because these Western thinkers, theyre
all in the Catholic tradition or even Anglican tradition, and theyre very clear
thinkers. They see through the Revolution pretty well, but theyre still
participating in this Western atmosphere which is rather rationalistic. And
theyre lacking some kind of deeper rootedness in tradition. And these people,
even this person [Talberg] who died just some years ago, you can see by what
he writes, that he is himself deeply rooted in Orthodox tradition. And therefore
his conclusions are not just conclusions of somebody who has thought the thing
through, but are conclusions of somebody who feels what is the tradition of
religion, Orthodox religion and the tradition, of the political tradition also.
Most of what he says will come of quotes from contemporaries of Nicholas
I, who, when hes writing also you can see that hes very deeply conservative, not
just in mind but his whole life, his whole heart is that way. And there are many
Russians like this left.
For Emperor Nicholas I, he writes, in the very first
hours of his reign, there began his ardor (striving) to manfully hold up Russia
against those frightful misfortunes which were threatening it by the criminal
light-mindedness of the so-called Decembrists. This enthusiasm struggling of
the Tsar ended thirty years later (when he defended the Fatherland -- this time
from external enemies -- who hated Russia) in the Crimean War when he died.
xlviii

He was above all a man of principle and duty. Emperor Nicholas was
entirely penetrated with the consciousness of duty. During the time of the
war for the fatherland, that is, Napoleons invasion, when he was sixteen
years old, he was terribly anxious to go to the army. I am ashamed, he said,
to see myself useless, a useless creature on the earth, not even fit to be able
to die a brave death.xlix
Six years before he ascended the throne, he was terribly distressed to the
point of tears when Emperor Alexander, his older brother, told him of his
intention to leave the throne which he would hand over to Nicholas, although
there was one brother older than Nicholas, Constantine, as a consequence of the
fact that Tsarevitch Constantine did not wish to reign. Nicholas [Pavlovitch] wrote
in his dairy later, the emperor, This conversation finished, but my wife and I
were left in the situation which may be likened...to the feeling which must strike a
man who is going peacefully along a pleasant road which is sown everywhere with
flowers and from which one sees everywhere the most pleasant views, when all of
a sudden an abyss opens up before his feet, towards which an unconquerable
power is pushing him without allowing him to step aside or to turn [back].l
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This is the way he felt from the very beginning that he was going to be
Tsar. And he felt this was a terrible burden; he did not want to be the Tsar. You
see the difference already: revolutionaries struggled just to beat everybody else
off so they can be the head; and here this government which is based upon
hereditary authority -- the person who does not want the kingdom gets it, and he
has to rule. But we see already theres a much better possibility for a just rule
under such conditions.
His kingdom, his reign began with the rebellion of the Decembrists, who
were infected by the revolutionary ideas. This is the way he spoke to the
senior officers of the guard gathered by him on the morning of December
14th when the rebellion had become known already, and he said to them, I
am peaceful since my conscience is clear. You know, sirs, that I did not seek
the crown. I do find that I have neither the experience nor the needful talents
to bear such a heavy burden, but since the Lord entrusted this to me, and as
it is likewise the will of my brothers and the fundamental laws of the land,
therefore I shall dare to defend it, and no one in the world will be able to
wrest it away from me. I know my obligations and I shall be able to fulfill
them. The Russian emperor in case of misfortune must die with his sword in
his hand. But, in any case, without foreseeing by what means we will be able
to come out of this crisis, I will in that case entrust my son [to you].li
[During] this rebellion of the Decembrists, which was not a bloody thing
like happened in France -- just a number of officers who began to demand a
constitution and was easily dispersed because of the boldness of the Tsar -- [he]
went right out in the midst of them at the head of his troops. I believe the five ring
leaders were hanged and the rest were sent into exile. And when he was asked
about having mercy on them, he said, The law dictates punishment for them,
and I will not make use of the right of mercy that belongs to me regarding them. I
will be unwavering, I am obliged to give this lesson to Russia and to Europe.lii
Studying history in his youth, he was especially interested in the French
Revolution. At that time he said, King Louis XVI did not understand his
obligations, and for this he was punished. To be merciful does not mean to be
weak. The sovereign does not have the right to forgive the enemies of
thegovernment.liii And in 1825 these enemies were the Decembrists. And so the
emperor subjected them to punishment.
But at the same time that he kept a strictness, the Sovereign revealed also great
concern with regard to these rebels, which was bound up...with the general laws
concerning prisoners.liv
Well see now what a contrast is here between this, [and] not only revolutionaries
who simply kill people off without mercy, but even the liberals. In his own
handwriting the emperor gave to the commandant of the Peter-Paul Fortress
prison...the following words: The prisoner Ryleyev should be placed in the
Alexeyevsky Prison, but his hands should not be bound. He should be given paper
for writing, and whatever he will write to me in his own hand is to be given to me
every day. The prisoner Karhovsky is to be kept better than ordinary prisoners.
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Hes to be given tea and everything else that he wants. I will undertake the keeping
of Karhovsky on my own income. Since Batenkov is sick and wounded, his
condition is to be made as easy as possible. Sergei Muraviev is to be kept under
strict arrest according to your judgment; he is wounded and weak. He is to be
given everything he needs. There is to be every day a doctors examination of him
and his wounds are to be rebound. Then all the arrested and prisoners were
ordered by the Tsar to be given a better type of food, tobacco, books of religious
content, and a priest was to be allowed to come to them for spiritual conversation.
They were not to be forbidden to write to their relatives, of course, only through
the commandant, that is, he would read the letters. On nineteenth of December
the Sovereign sent the wife of one of these revolutionaries, Ryleyev two
thousand rubles and a [reassuring] letter from her husband. She wrote to Ryleyev,
that is, her husband, My friend, I do not know with what feelings [or words] to
express the unutterable mercy of our monarch. Three days ago the emperor sent
your letter and right after it two thousand rubles. Teach me how to thank the father
of our homeland. After the guilty ones were condemned, in a year, he made their
condition even easier. The chief means of his mercy was through secret decrees.
The fulfilling of them he entrusted to his authorized agent, General Leparsky. Go
with the commandant to Nerchinsk Serbia and ease the lot of the unfortunate
ones there, he told him. I give you full authority in this. I know that you will be
able to harmonize the duty of service, that is, the fact that theyre prisoners,
with Christian compassion. Leparsky fulfilled exactly the directions of the
Sovereign and by this earned the love of the Decembrists and their wives. And all
the good things which he did [for] the prisoners and their wives [they] thought
were owing to his own good heart without understanding that he was only doing
with great joy what had been commanded him by the Sovereign.lv
We see here a spirit of Christian compassion which is totally foreign to
Communism, to socialism, to liberalism, and to these even these ordinary
monarchs in the West.
There were a few incidents in the life of Tsar Nicholas which reveal a
different attitude to the whole process of governing and the attitude of the king
toward his subjects. There was in 1849 during the month of May a parade in
which 60,000 troops took part. Many spectators were present. When at the time of
the ceremonial march -- of course, the Tsar is standing there ready to salute the
soldiers -- the second battalion of the Yegersky legion in which Lvov was the
leader, the Sovereign with his inimitable voice, which was quite loud, commanded,
Parade stop! The whole regiment stopped dead in their tracks. The Sovereign
with a sign of his hand stopped the music and called Lvov, the leader, out of the
ranks. In the hearing of all, he turned to him and said, Lvov, by an unfortunate
mistake, you have unjustly and completely innocently suffered. Because earlier
he had accused him of taking part in this very conspiracy that Dostoyevsky was
caught in: these people studying the writings of Fourier and talking about the
overthrow of the government. And he was mistaken for somebody else by the
Sovereign. And here and before sixty thousand troops and many thousands of
spectators, he apologizes. I beg forgiveness of you before the soldiers and the
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people. For the sake of God, forget all that has happened to you and embrace me.
With these words bending down from his horse, the Sovereign three times kissed
Lvov strongly. Having kissed the hand of the emperor, Lvov, who was thus made
so happy, returned to his place. At the command of the Sovereign the march again
began. This moment, says a eye witness, for those who saw it and heard the
voice of their Sovereign, the feelings that filled their heart at that time cannot be
called ecstasy. This was something beyond ecstasy. The blood stopped in ones
veinslvi to see the Sovereign of all Russia stop and ask forgiveness of simple
officer.
But we see on another occasion what happened. There was a certain woman
whose husband was imprisoned also in... [a] revolutionary affair of some kind. And
she stopped him some place where he was looking at various institutions, and he
allowed her to come and present a petition to him, and he began to read it. There
was here a request to have mercy upon her husband who had taken an active part in
the Polish rebellion which had occurred recently and for this had been sent to
Siberia. And by the way, they were sent to Siberia under very easy conditions.
They had their own houses, were well fed and everything else.
-The Sovereign listened heedfully and the woman sobbed. Having read the
petition the sovereign returned it to the petitioner and sharply declared, Neither
the forgiveness nor even a lightening of the punishment of your husband can I
give. And he cried out to the chauffeur to go further. When he returned the
Sovereign withdrew into his office. Immediately after his return, there was a need
for this one officer Bibikov to go to the Tsar with a report. There was a double
door into this office. Having opened the first door and intending to go into the
second, Bibikov stepped back in indescribable astonishment. In the small corridor
between the two doors, the Sovereign was standing and was all shaking from
stifled sobs coming out of him. Great tears were coming out of his eyes. What is
wrong with you, your majesty? Bibikov mumbled. Oh, Bibikov, he said, If you
only knew how difficult [, how terrible] it is to be unable to forgive! I cannot
forgive now this man, that would be weakness, but after some time make another
report to me about him.lvii
We see here the combination of absolute strictness because he knows that
weakness leads to overthrow of government. And thats exactly what the
revolutionaries are feeding upon, this liberalism which creeps into their
governments and allows them to constantly say, Well, we really believe the same
thing as you -- almost. Were working for the same end, and well forgive you and
everything will be fine. And instead he was very strict, at the same time very
merciful. And when the conditions were such that this weakness would not cause a
temptation to people to say that hes soft on the revolutionaries -- and therefore the
revolutionaries can develop themselves -- then hes extremely kind. And you can
see his heart is filled with compassion for them; but his sense of duty would not
allow him to do what would be for the harm of the whole people.
His attitude towards his whole people is not like in the West where they let
the representatives have [an] entirely cold relation to the subjects, to the citizens,
or even the Western kings who are obviously governing people of all kinds of
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different beliefs, and theres no kind of particular warmth. In some Western states
there still was -- in the monarchies perhaps. This is rapidly being lost.
But the reign of Nicholas I was something quite like a family, very
patriarchal. And from him there was something paternal in his relationship
towards his subjects. Being very severe and threatening towards the enemies of
the kingdom, he was at the same time merciful and filled with love for his good
and faithful subjects. In his addresses to the people and his soldiers, he would
often address them as my children.lviii
Once, he was travelling, he wanted to have a special word to say to certain
troops. He came to the tents where they were and he commanded, My troops,
my children, come to me, everyone just as he dressed. This order was fulfilled
precisely: some in their dress uniforms, some in overcoats, and some just in their
underwear. And many of them lined up around the Sovereign and the tsarevitch.
And where is Conon Zabuga? the Tsar asked. This was a non-commissioned
officer...who had recently distinguished himself. Here I am, your imperial
majesty, resounded over the head of the Sovereign the loud voice of Zaboga, who,
dressed only in his underwear, had climbed a tree to see the Tsar better. The
Sovereign ordered him to climb down. And when he almost fell head over heels to
the ground and stood up in the front, the emperor kissed him on the head and said,
Give this to all your companions for their brave service. The captain of the
general headquarters, Philipson,...who was an eyewitness of this, said, This whole
scene, so sincere and unprepared, produced upon the troops a much deeper
impression than any kind of eloquent speech would have.lix
Of course, under the old fashioned system, this was possible, that theres
such a humane relationship between the king and his subjects. Of course, the main
thing about his spiritual makeup was his Orthodox faith. Here he describes in his
dairy, the Tsars own dairy, what he did on the 14th of December when he was
faced with the rebellion of the Decembrists. Being left alone, I asked myself
what to do and, crossing myself, I gave myself over to the hands of God, and
decided to go myself wherever the danger threatened greatest. And he admitted
later that at this time besides this decision, he had no definite plan of
action, but to trust in God.lx
Another time he was traveling and fell down off his horse and broke his
shoulder and he was left with only one of his orderlies. And this is what he said to
the orderly. I feel that Ive broken my shoulder. This is good; this means God is
waking me up. That one does not need to make any kind of plans without asking
His help first.lxi For a king to be thinking like this, of course, shows that he
places -- he is absolute ruler, theoretically, but above him is God.
Concerning his heir, Alexander, who became Alexander II, he says, -We were
speaking [also] about Shasha, Alexander, and we both thought that he was
showing great weakness in his character, and was allowing himself to be easily
given over to distractions. I am hoping all the time that this will pass as he grows
up so that, because the foundations of his character are so good, one can expect a
great deal. But without this, strength of character, he will fall; for his work as
emperor will be no lighter than mine. And what is it that saves me? Of course,
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not my talents. I am a simple man, but my hope in God and my firm will to act -that is all I have.lxii
And when he was celebrating the 25th anniversary of his reign, and when
people were surrounding him and giving him glory, his daughter went up to him
and said, Arent you happy now, papa? Arent you satisfied with yourself? And
he said, With myself? And pointing his hand to heaven, he said, I am just a
splinter of wood.lxiii That is, this very thing that we Americans have so strong -satisfaction with ourselves -- the Tsar himself did not even have it. He is so aware
that he is serving something else.
I have here the comments of a certain Spanish writer in the 1850s writing
about Tsar Nicholas, a certain Vidal. In general, he says, the Eastern
question, which the Western diplomats were so occupied with then, the question
of Turkey, it is not strange that this question cannot be solved by those who so
often allow themselves to be blinded by the disorderly theories of our so-called
government representatives. But if we look with some heedfulness and dispassion
at the character of Russian diplomacy, we will immediately see an enormous
contrast which has always been presented, on the one hand, by the ability of the
Moscow government, and on the other hand, by the paradoxes of our own
government people.
Intrigues and money are the agents which, more than anything else,
affect our own governments.lxiv And we know at that time all the English,
French -- everybody was so filled with sending agents, and being bought up
and everything else, thinking only about their narrow national interests, and
breaking treaties as though theyre nothing, yet if there is a chance to get
away with it. Because we everywhere and always see such complete
nonentities, with a few exceptions, in the higher places of administration, at
the head of the armies, at the governance of the diplomatic corps, and even
in the professorships of our universities. The Russian government does not
follow this very poor example. They use in their service all the best people,
without paying attention to special [their] political opinions, their
origins, and so forth. In a word, the Russian government has always
followed in this case, the most liberal politics which our representatives do
not know anything about....
After having fought against Islam for so many centuries, Christian
Europe goes to it for assistance and has taken it under its protection when it was
ready to fall apart, and, under the pretext of placing a barrier to despotism, it is
sharpening its sword for the defense of another despotism.lxv
This refers, of course, to the fact that, considering the Tsar is in this great peril, that
theyre only trying to expand; the Western powers are constantly supporting
Turkey. And [it] even happened that, during the Crimean War, the Tsar was kind,
he did it only for the sake of the Orthodox peoples of the Balkans and Greece. And
he knew that the English and French would take the side of the Turks just to
oppose him. And he was counting on his, I think it was his cousin, the Emperor of
Austria and of Germany. And they guaranteed that they would be on his side. But
they found that it was diplomatically better to be on the other side because the
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balance was better that way, and therefore they broke their promises. And he wrote
to the Emperor of Austria and he said, Dont tell me that you too are going to fight
under the sign of the Turkish crescent. Its enough for this barbarian English and
French do it, but you my own cousin, youre supposed to be standing for
monarchy.lxvi And that hurt him very much when someone had given him a
promise, his fellow monarch had given a promise, and would not keep it for the
sake of politics. And he always was faithful to his promises.
This Spanish writer continues, -A spirit of prejudice forces our journalists
to speak about the Emperor Nicholas as of some despot, and one in love with his
own honor, who by his personal caprices and his unrestrained pride is supposedly
bringing the blood of his own people as a sacrifice, and also is sacrificing the
balance of power in Europe and the good state of the whole world. But in actual
fact there are not today many such sovereigns who are really worthy of praise, both
for their gifts as for their personal and public virtues. Emperor Nicholas was a
devoted man, a gentle and caring father, a faithful friend and monarch, who with
all his power was concerned for the happiness of his subjects. All his daughters
and grandchildren lived in his court, with the exception of the Grand Duchess
Olga.... The people blessed his name and one must acknowledge that the whole of
Europe is obliged to him for the preservation of the order, which is now being
threatened by the senselessness and arrogance of this fierce Emperor Napoleon
III.lxvii
This is interesting as a testament from outside of Russia. Of course, inside of
Russia he was greatly loved by all except the revolutionaries. Now let us examine
how such a one as this dies. I have a full account of his last days. The doctor who
attended him said the following: From the time when I began my medical
practice, I have never seen a death anything like this death. I did not even consider
it possible that the consciousness of precisely fulfilled duty joined with an
unwavering firmness of will should to such an extent be dominant even at the fatal
moment when the soul is freed from its earthly shell, so as to go to eternal repose
and happiness. I repeat, I would have considered this impossible if I have had not
had the misfortune to live to see all this man die.
The Empress Alexandra Feodorevna offered to the Tsar, as he was dying,
that he should receive Holy Communion. He was disturbed that he should have to
receive the Holy Gifts lying down and not fully clothed. His confessor, the
Protopresbyter Vasilli Vazhanoff, said that in his life he had instructed many poor
people as they were dying, but never had he seen such a one, such faith as in
Emperor Nicholas I, which triumphed over the approaching death. Another
eyewitness of the last hours of the life of the Sovereign expressed the opinion that
had an atheist been brought into the room of the Tsar then, he would have become
a believer. After Communion the Sovereign pronounced the words, O Lord
accept me in peace. The Empress recited Our Father. After the pronouncing of
the Emperors favorite words, Thy will be done, he said, Always, always.
Several times he then repeated the prayer, Now lettest thou Thy servant depart in
peace, O Master, according to Thy word. Then the Sovereign gave all necessary
instructions concerning his burial. He demanded that there be as little expense as
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possible for the funeral. He forbade that the hall be decked with black where his
body would be, for this was not according to Orthodox custom, He asked that
there be placed in the coffin with him, the icon of the Mother of God Hodigitrea,
[with] which at his baptism the Empress Catherine had blessed him, that is, his
grandmother Catherine II. He blessed his children and those who were absent, he
blessed from a distance. Grand Duchess Olga Nicholaevna, whom he loved so
much, felt his paternal blessing at her place in Stuttgart. He called his nearest
friends. To the heir to the throne he specially recommended Count Alderburg
saying, This counselor has been a close friend to me for forty years. Concerning
Count Orloff, he said, You yourself know everything that needs to be done. I
dont need to recommend anything to you. He gave his great thanks to the
Empress favorite maid, Madame Rorburg for her care for the Empress in her
recent, which he shared with her. And in his bidding farewell to her, he said,
Greet my dear Peterhof for me....
All the reports which came from the army he commanded to be given over
to the tsarevitch. Then he asked that he be left alone for a while. Now, he said, I
must be left alone so as to prepare myself for the final moment. I will call you
when the time comes, he said.
Later the Emperor called certain of the grenadiers, bade farewell to them,
asking them to give his final greeting to those who were not there. He asked the
tsarevitch to give his greetings also to the guards, to the army, and especially to
those who had been defending Sebastopol, because he was dying at the very time
when Russia was losing the Crimean War. Tell them that I will continue to pray
for them in the other world. He commanded that final telegrams be sent to
Sebastopol and to Moscow with these words, The Emperor is dying and bids
farewell to Moscow. At 8:20 his confessor, Father Boris began to read the prayer
of the departure of the soul from the body. The Sovereign listened attentively to
[the words of] these prayers, making the sign of the Cross over himself [from time
to time]. When the priest blessed him and gave him the Cross to kiss, the dying
Sovereign said, I think that I never did evil in my life consciously.
Notice how Francis says, I do not recognize any sin in myself; and he
says, I think that I never consciously did evil, that is, he confessed all his sins
and realizes that he is full of sins but he thinks that he never actually did evil
consciously.
He held the hand of the Empress in his and the tsarevitch also, and when
he could no longer speak he bid farewell to them with a glance. At ten oclock the
Sovereign lost the capability of speaking. But before his repose he began to speak
again. He commanded the tsarevitch to raise one of the princesses from her knees
since this was bad for her health. Some of his last words were, speaking to the
tsarevitch, Hold on to everything, Hold on to everything, accompanying this with
a decisive gesture. Then the agony began and the Liturgy ended in the palace
church.
The wheezing before his death, wrote Tyucheva, kept getting stronger.
His breathing became more and more difficult and sporadic. Finally, convulsions
passed across his face and his head was thrown back. They thought that this was
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the end and already those around let out a cry of despair. But the Emperor opened
his eyes, raised them to heaven, smiled and then it was all over. Seeing this death,
so firm and so pious, one must think that the Emperor had for a long time foreseen
it and had prepared himself for it.lxviii
Archbishop Nicanor of Cherson, about the death of the Emperor said, His
death was the image of the death of a Christian, for he was a man of
repentance, in full possession of his faculties and of unwavering
manliness.lxix
In his testament he wrote, I die with a grateful heart for all the good things
by which God has been pleased to reward me in this world which passes away,
with ardent love for our glorious Russia which I have served to my last to the best
of my understanding with faith and righteousness. I regret that I could not do the
good things which I so sincerely desired. My son will take my place. I shall entreat
God that He will bless him for such a difficult work unto which he now enters, and
will grant him to confirm Russia on the firm foundation of the fear of God. O,
grant her, that is, Russia to come to fulfill its inward good order and he will
push away all danger from without. In Thee, O Lord, I have hoped; let me not be
ashamed unto the ages.lxx
Again he tells in his will to the tsarevitch, Keep strictly all that our Church
proscribes. You are young and inexperienced, and you are in those years when the
passions are developing, but always remember that you must be an example of
piety, and conduct yourself in such a way that by your life you might serve as a
living example to the people. Be merciful and accessible to all the unfortunate
ones, but do not spend money above the treasury. Very pious. Despise all kinds
of slanders and rumors, but fear to go against your conscience. May the All
merciful God bless you. Place all your hope in Him [alone]. He will not leave you
as long as you will constantly turn to Him.lxxi
Tsar Nicholas,...
Orthodox Tsar, anti- Revolution 200.
He faithfully comprehended and precisely defined the triune origin of our
historical existence: Orthodoxy, autocracy and nationality. He strictly and
consistently steered it in his personal politics -- not only internal, but external as
well. He believed in Holy Russia, in her calling in the world, he labored for her
benefit and stood untiring on the guard of her honor and dignity. -- the historian,
S. S. Tatishchev.
T. I. Tyutchev, in his notes, Russia and Revolution, wrote, At this
opportunity, allow me to make the observation: In what way could it have
happened that, among all the sovereigns of Europe, and equally among the political
figures that guided her in recent times, only one could be found who, from the very
beginning recognized and proclaimed the great delusion of 1830 and who, from
that time alone in Europe, and perhaps alone amongst all those around him who
constantly refused to yield to it. At that time (1848) fortunately, there was a
Sovereign on the Russian throne in whom was embodied the Russian idea, and in
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the present world situation it was the Russian idea alone that was so distinct from
the revolutionary environment, and which could evaluate the facts that manifested
themselves in it. Had Nicholas died in 1850 he would not have lived until the
disastrous war with France and England which cut short his life and cast a gloomy
shadow over his reign. But this shadow exists only for contemporaries. In the light
of dispassionate history it vanishes, and Nicholas stands in the ranks of the most
celebratedand valiant kings in history. (Russ. Arch. 1873)lxxii
Helped Austria without reward 201,
In his Thoughts and Recollections prince Otto Bismark says, In the history
of European states one can barely find another example of a monarch of a great
power showing a neighboring state favor like that which Emperor Nicholas
showed to Austria. Seeing the dangerous situation in which she found herself in
1849 he came to her aid with 150,000 troops, suppressed Hungary, reestablished
the king s power and recalled his troops, without demanding for this from Austria
any kind of concessions, any kind of compensation, and without even touching
upon the disputed Eastern or Polish questions.
In Hungary and in Olmutz(?) Emperor Nicholas acted with the conviction
that he, as a representative of the monarchist principle, was called by fate to
declare war on the revolution, which approached from the West. He was an
idealist and remained faithful to himself in all historical moments. lxxiii
idealist 202.
The famous general A. 0. Dyugamel wrote: The throne had never yet been
occupied by a more noble knight, by a more honorable man. He never consented to
any trace whatever of the revolution, and even liberalism aroused his suspicion. In
his capacity as the autocrat of all Russia, Emperor Nicholas came early to the
conviction that there was no other salvation for the Empire than a union with
conservative principles, and in the course of his thirty-year reign he never deviated
from his pre-ordained path. lxxiv
Recognized Louis Phil. 203.
Confirmation of what has been said may be found in the Sovereign s
relationship to the July revolution of 1830 in France and to the seizure of the
throne by King Louis-Phillipe of Orleans, in violation of the lawful rights of the
grandson of King Carl X. The Emperor for a long time did not agree to recognize
him despite the arguments of the ambassador in France, Count Pozzo-Di-Bobro.
Finally, to the arguments of the latter were joined those of the Minister of Internal
Affairs, Count Nesselrode, who presented the Tsar with a corresponding report. On
it the resolution was placed by the Sovereign: I know not which is more to be
preferred -- a republic, or a similar so-called monarchy. Then he added, I
surrender to your arguments, but I call Heaven to witness that this is and always
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will be against my conscience, and that this is the most painful effort I have ever
made. lxxv
b. Gogol: Andreyev 135, 6, 7 (158-9?)
We are in possession of a treasure which cannot be valued, -- he thus
characterizes the Church, and continues: This Church which, like a chaste virgin,
is the only one that has preserved itself from the time of the Apostles in its
innocent original purity; this Church which, complete with its profound dogmas
and its most minute external rituals, was as it were brought down from Heaven for
the Russian people which alone has the power to resolve all the intricacies of our
perplexities and questions. And this Church, which was created for life, we, even
up to now, have not brought into our life. lxxvi
Gogol loudly and with conviction declared that the Truth is in Orthodoxy
and in the Orthodox Russian autocracy; that the historical to be or not to be is
resolved by Orthodox Russian culture, and that the immediate fate of the whole
world depends on its preservation. The world is at the point of death and we are
entering the pre-apocalyptic period of world history. lxxvii
Having been made indignant by the fact that Gogol dared to see the
salvation of Russia in religio-mystical, inward activities, in ascetic podvigs and
prayer; and that he therefore considered the work of preaching to be higher than all
the works - - Belinsky, in this connection, wrote in his letter: Russia sees salvation
neither in mysticism, nor in asceticism, nor in pietism, but in the success of
civilization, enlightenment, and humanity. She needs neither sermons (she has
heard enough of them) nor prayers (she has had enough of their endless
repetitions), but the awakening in her people of a sense of human worth. lxxviii
C. Alexander III:
a. His tutor Pobedonostsev -- gave him straight Orthodox, antirevolutionary education, acquainted him with past(?) in
Revolution -- Rachinsky (developed parish schools), Dostoyevsky,
Melinkov and Pechersky.
b. Voices calling him to anti-liberal course [Talberg] p. 229.
From a letter of Pobedonostsev to Alexander, March 6, 1881, 5 days after the
murder of Tsar Alexander II: I am resolving to write again, because things
are terrible, and there is no time to lose. If they will sing you the old siren
song, that you need to be calm, that you need to continue in a liberal
direction, that you need to yield to so-called public opinion -- O, for God s
sake, don t believe them, Your Majesty; don t listen. This would be ruin -the ruin of Russia and of you. This is as clear as day to me. Your safety
would not be protected by this, but would be further diminished. The insane
villains that killed your father will not be satisfied with any concessions, and
will only become more violent. And it can be suppressed -- the evil seed can
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be torn up -- only by fighting against it to the death, by iron and blood. To be


victorious is not difficult -- until now all have wished to flee the struggle and
have deceived the reposed Sovereign, you, themselves, and everyone and
everything in the world, because they were not people of reason, power and
heart, but flaccid eunuchs and conjurers. No, Your Majesty -- the only one
sure, direct way is to stand on your feet and begin, not slumbering for a
moment, a most holy fight, as there has only been in Russia. The whole
nation awaits this authoritative decision and as soon as they sense the
sovereign will, all will rise up, all will be revived and will regain their
healthy color in the air. On that day he received a note from the Sovereign:
I thank you from my whole soul for your heartfelt letter, with which I am in
full agreement. Drop by to see me tomorrow at 3 o clock and I shall be
happy to have a talk with you. All my hope is in God.
[This is not included in the outline, but the last half of it is marked by Fr.
Seraphim in his copy of Talberg s book, and one sentence is even underlined.
This is from a letter of Pobedonostsev published in a magazine called Russian
Archive.]
Loris-Melikov had the intention to do Russia the favor of giving it a
constitution or by setting a beginning to it by summoning deputies from all Russia.
In this connection a conference took place in February with Emperor Alexander II.
On March 2 the Council of Ministers was appointed to be at the Sovereign s for a
final decision, but in the meantime Loris-Melikov had already prepared the
triumphant publication of this, which was to have appeared in the Government
Herald on the 5th. And suddenly the catastrophe. From the 2nd of March the
magazines began, in connection with the regicide, to demand a constitution. LorisMelikov sent to ask them that they be silent, if only for fifteen days. And then they
gathered us in the Council of Ministers with the Sovereign on Sunday at 2 p.m.
They invited me, the elderly S. G. Stroganov, and the grand dukes. The Sovereign,
having declared what the business was, added that it had not been decided by the
reposed and that it was in doubt and he asked all to speak without constraint. LorisMelikov began to read the protocol and the draft declaration already prepared in
the name of the new Sovereign in which he considered it as it were his sacred duty
to fulfill the testament of his father. And imagine -- they had the shamelessness to
leave in this declaration now all the same motives that had been placed in the
previous one: that public order had been established everywhere, the uprising had
been suppressed, the exiles had returned, and so on. There is no time to describe all
this in detail. The first one to come out against it was Stroganov, briefly but
energetically. Then Valuyev, Abaza and Milyutin gave bombastic speeches about
how all Russia is waiting for this blessing. Milyutin at this time made a slip of the
tongue, referring to the people as irrational masses. Valuyev, instead of the word
people, used the word peoples. There further spoke Nabokov, Saburov, and the
rest. Only Posyet and Makov came out against it. But when they turned to me, I
could no longer hold back the waves of my indignation. Having explained all the
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falseness of the institution, I said that shame and disgrace covered my face when
thinking of what a time we were discussing this, when the body of our Sovereign
lay still unburied. And who was guilty in this? His blood was on us and on our
children. We were all guilty in his death. What had we been doing all this time and
during his reign? We talked and talked, listened to ourselves and to one another and
everything from his institution was turned under our hands into a lie, and the
freedom granted by him had become false. And in recent years, in years of
explosions and mines, what had we done to protect him? We talked -- and only
that. All of our senses should have been concentrated in the fear that he might be
murdered, but we allowed into our souls so many base, despicable fears and began
to tremble before public opinions, that is, the opinions of contemptuous journalists,
and what Europe would say. And we know that through magazines.
You can imagine with what thunder my words fell. Those adjacent to me,
Abaz and Loris-Melikov, could barely contain their fury at me. Abaz replied quite
sharply: From what the Ober-procurator of the Synod has said, it would follow
that everything done in the past reign was of no use whatever -- the freeing of the
serfs and the rest -- and that the only thing left for us to do after this is to request
our dismissal. The Sovereign, who at my words His blood is on us interrupted
me with the exclamation, This is true, supported me, saying that really all were
guilty, and that he did not exclude himself. We spoke further. Pitiful words were
heard, that something should be done, but that something meant the institution
(constitution). lxxx
c. Most ministers were for liberalism, reforms in government, but
Pobedonostsev and others were for autocracy. Alex, resolved to go
against the spirit of the times, not give himself over to unrealizable
fantasies and scabby liberalism. Against Constitution why?
nationalism; Russian already had a constitution in Orthodoxy, ancient
institution and trust of Tsar and people.
d. Pobedonostsev stands up against liberalism and constitutionalism,
Tsar s mournful, 232. Disturbances disappeared but heavy weight on
the Tsar 233.
-On April 29, 1881 the decisive word of the Tsar rang out in a manifest, in
which it was said: The voice of God commands us to embark vigorously upon the
matter of governance, hoping in Divine Providence, with faith in the power and
truth of autocratic rule, which we are called to uphold and preserve from any
encroachment upon it, for the good of the people.
May the hearts of our faithful subjects -- of all who love the fatherland and
are dedicated to the royal authority, inherited from generation -- who have
been confounded by anxiety and terror, be encouraged. Under it s protection,
and in indissoluble union with it, our land has more than once survived great
strife and has reached a state of power and glory in the midst of grievous
trials and misfortunes, with faith in God, Who establishes her fate.
Dedicating ourselves to our great service, we summon all our faithful
subjects to serve us and the state in faith and righteousness in uprooting the
revolts which have disgraced the Russian Land, in the confirmation of faith
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and morality, in the good upbringing of children, in the annihilation of


falsehood and thievery, in the establishment of truth in the activities of the
institutions granted Russia by its benefactor, our beloved father.
And here the darkness of sedition, cut through by the light, bright as
lightning, of the Tsar s words, began quickly to disperse -- writes Nazarevsky.
The revolt, which seemed invincible, melted like wax before the face of fire,
vanished like smoke under the wings of the wind. Sedition in people s minds
began quickly to be replaced by Russian sensibility; dissoluteness and self-will
gave way to order and discipline. Freethinking no longer trampled upon
Orthodoxy like some kind of ultramontanism, or upon our dear Church like
clericalism. The authority of the indisputable and hereditary national Supreme rule
stood again upon its historical, traditional height.
But it was not easy for the Autocrat to bear this difficult yoke for the benefit
of Russia. On December 31, 1881, in a letter of reply to Pobedonostsev, the
Sovereign wrote: I thank you, most gracious Constantine Petrovich, for your kind
letter and all your wishes. A terrible, frightful year is coming to a close; a new one
is beginning, and what awaits us ahead? It is so frightfully difficult at times, that
were it not for my faith in God and His limitless mercy, of course, I would have no
other choice than to put a bullet through my head. But I am not fainthearted, and
the chief thing is that I have faith in God and I believe that there will come, at last,
happy days for our dear Russia. Often, very often I recall the words of the Holy
Gospel: Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God and believe in Me. These
powerful words act salutarily upon me. With full hope in God s mercy, I close this
letter: Thy will be done, 0 Lord. lxxxi
St. John of Kronstadt at deathbed.
Repose of Tsar Alexander III
A description of his last days is given by Nazarevsky, who was able to receive
proper notification. On the 5th of October a bulletin carefully composed by
Zakharyn and Professor Leiden (who was recalled from Berlin), concerning the
serious illness of the Sovereign, made not only all Russia, but even the whole
world wince. Everyone, in fear for the life of the Emperor, who had gained a
powerful influence absolutely everywhere, began to pray for his recovery. It
became clear to everyone, and to the sufferer himself, that the end was
approaching. The bright mood and manly calmness of the sick Tsar were striking.
Despite his weakness, insomnia and heart palpitations, he still did not wish to take
to his bed and strove to continue his occupation with matters of state, of which the
last were written reports concerning matters in the Far East, and Korea in
particular.
By the 9th of October the invalid told his confessor for certain that he sensed
the closeness of death and with great joy heard his suggestion that he receive the
Holy Mysteries. He was only sorry for one thing -- that he could not as before, as is
usually done during Great Lent, prepare himself for this great Sacrament. At his
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confession, which took place soon thereafter, the Sovereign knelt and made full
prostrations like a healthy man. But for Communion he was now no longer able to
raise himself up. He was raised up by the Empress and his confessor. With
profound reverence the Sovereign communed the Body and Blood of Christ.
On the next morning, on October 10, the Sovereign cheerfully and sincerely
met Fr. John of Kronstadt, who had arrived at Livadia; and in the evening, he met
the fianc of his firstborn, Princess Alix of Hesse, who had hastened to the Crimea.
When he greeted the respected pastor the Sovereign, with the meekness that
distinguished him, said: I myself did not dare to invite you to take such a long
journey, but when Grand Duchess Alexandra Iosifovna suggested that I invite you
to Livadia, I happily agreed to it, and I thank you for coming. I implore you to pray
for me -- I m quite unwell. As Fr. John related, Then he went into the other room
and asked me to pray together with him. He knelt, and I began to recite the prayers.
His Majesty was praying with deep feeling; his head was bowed and he was
immersed within himself. When I had finished, he arose and asked me to pray in
the future.
In the evening, to meet his son s bride, he gave order to be given his dress
coat and put it on and, despite the swelling in his feet, went to meet her. He
expressed his paternal feelings to her, accepting her as a dear daughter, close to
his heart.
The excitement of that day evidently had a good effect on him, and he began
to feel better. This continued until October 18. This kindled the hope in those
around him that the Sovereign would recover.
On a memorable day, October 17, Fr. John of Kronstadt gave the Sovereign
the Holy Mysteries for the second time. After the Liturgy he went in to the sick
man with the Holy Chalice in his hands. The Tsar firmly, clearly, and with deep
feeling repeated the words of the priest: I believe, 0 Lord, and I confess that Thou
art truly the Christ and he reverently received Communion from the Chalice. Tears
of contrition fell upon his breast. He again felt an upsurge of energy, and the
Sovereign was just about to set about his business again and even to work at night.
But he became worse and an inflammatory process of the lungs came to light,
along with expectoration of blood. The dying man manfully struggled with his
infirmity and displayed the power of his will. On the 18th a courier was sent to
Petersburg for the last time with resolved business. On the following day once
again he endeavored to work on several reports and wrote for the last time: In
Livadia. Read. But this was already his last day of service to Russia -- the great
toiler of the Russian Land became severely weakened and now awaited his
approaching passage to the other world.
The Sovereign spent the night without sleep, earnestly waiting for the dawn
and, arising from his bed, sat in an armchair. The day came, dismal and cold. A
strong wind came up; the sea groaned with violent choppiness.
At seven o'clock the Sovereign sent for the Tsarevich and spoke privately
with him for about an hour. After this he summoned the Empress, who found him
in tears. He told her: I sense my end. The Empress said, For God s sake, don t
say that -- you ll be well. No, the Sovereign firmly replied, this has dragged on
145

too long. I feel that death is close. Be at peace. I m absolutely at peace. At 10 o


clock his relatives gathered around the dying man and he, fully conscious, tried to
say an amiable word to each one. Recalling that the twentieth was the birthday of
Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, the Sovereign wanted to congratulate her.
Conversing with his close ones, he did not forget about his soul and asked that his
confessor be summoned to say prayers and desired again to commune the Holy
Mysteries.
Having communed the Sovereign, the confessor wished to withdraw so as
to leave the dying man among his family, but the Sovereign detained him and
thanked him sincerely. The pastor, leaning towards the Sovereign, thanked him on
behalf of the Holy Church, for the fact that he was always her unwavering son and
faithful defender, on behalf of the
Russian people, for whom he sacrificed all his strength and, finally, he expressed
the firm hope that in the heavenly dwelling places there would be prepared for him
an imperishable kingdom of glory and blessedness with all the saints.
At 11 o clock the condition of the sick man became especially difficult;
shortness of breath increased, the activity of his heart declined, and he asked that
Fr. John of Kronstadt be summoned who, having come, anointed the body of the
Sovereign with oil from the lampada and, in accordance with his request, placed
his hands upon his head. Fearing that the respected pastor was becoming tired, the
dying man asked him to rest, and when the latter asked him whether he was tiring
him by holding his hands on his head, he heard, on the contrary, it s very easy for
me when you hold them there. And he added, touchingly, the Russian people love
you. With his weakening voice the Sovereign began to express his farewell
affection, first to the Empress, then to the children. They stood near him and the
Empress held his hand. At 2 o clock his pulse increased. The last minutes had
come. The royal sufferer, held up by the shoulders by the Tsarevich, leaned his
head upon the Empress shoulder, closed his eyes and quietly reposed. It was 2:15
in the afternoon. So ended his life this good sufferer for the Russian Land, as in
ancient Rus they called his holy heavenly protector, the Right-believing Alexander
Nevsky.
The ever-memorable Fr. John thus described these sorrowful days: On
October 17, by the wish of the reposed-in-God Sovereign Emperor he was given
communion of the Holy Mysteries by me. I celebrated the Liturgy daily, either in
the Livadia church, or occasionally in Oreand, and on the aforementioned day,
directly after celebrating the Liturgy in the latter church, I hastened with the Cup
of life to the August (sick one), who received with reverent feelings, from my
hands, the life-creating Mysteries.
On October 20, the Sovereign Emperor again wished to see me. I hastened
to appear immediately after celebrating the Liturgy and remained in the Imperial
presence right up to the blessed repose of the Sovereign. By wish of the Empress I
read the prayer for healing for the sick one and anointed his feet and other parts of
his body with oil. This oil from the lampada of a revered miracle-working icon, by
wish of zealous people, was provided by one of the priests of Yalta, Fr. Alexander,
for the anointing of the August (sick one), which was done. Receiving with sincere
146

faith this reverent zeal, the Sovereign Emperor expressed the wish that I lay my
hands on his head, and when I held them there, His Majesty said to me, The
people love you. Yes, said I, Your Majesty, your people love me. Then he
deigned to say, Yes -- because they know who you are and what you are. (His
exact words). After this, the August (sick one) felt a strong attack of shortness of
breath, and oxygen was continually pumped into his mouth. He was in great pain.
On the left of the August (sick one) was the Empress; before him stood his two
eIdest sons and the bride of the Tsarevich; on the right were Grand Duke Michael
Alexandrovich and Olga Alexandrovna; and I stood by the headrest of the
armchair. Is it not painful for Your Imperial Majesty that I m holding my hands on
your head? No, the Sovereign deigned to answer, It s easier for me when you
hold your hands over me. This was because I had appeared immediately after
serving Liturgy, and in the palms of my hands held the Most Pure Body of the Lord
and had been a partaker of the Holy Mysteries.
Kronstadt November 8, 1894
Archpriest John Sergiev

lxxxii

d. Pobedonestsev--lxxxiii
[Notes from Fr. S s Revolution chapter of Anarchism manuscript: Only,
however, in the supremely reactionary,
autocratic Russian Empire did the political order itself retain -- for all its
weakening in the period of Westernization -- some sense of its old, absolute
foundation; and even in Russia it was only, perhaps, a very few statesmen like
Pobedenostsev who were seriously concerned to preserve this foundation. Also in
his notes for the Empire, Old Order chapter, Fr. S. lists a quote by Pobedenostsev:
Russia has been strong thanks to autocracy, thanks to the unlimited mutual trust
between the people and its tsars. ]
(1) Russian tradition unique not influenced by Revolution or
liberalism: Viereck 84-5.
(2) Quotes 120-3.lxxxiv-(3) Watched over new literature and philosophy and art, admired
Tsar against Solneyei(?), Tolet, blasphemous paintings of Ge,
Opera during Lent against what is revolting and
propagandistic.
Dostoyevsky
(1) Radical youth caught in Fourierist group, condemned,
Siberia, then became Tsarist. Having himself been deeply infected by
revolutionary disease, he saw deeper than anyone its meaning and end.
[Taken from Fr. Seraphims Russian Literature taped lecture]
Dostoyevsky lived, well he died 1881 or 2, and his life was, in his youth he
was at the very time when Gogol was being converted, in the 1840s, Dostoyevsky
147

was taking part in discussion groups. There was one group called Petrochevsky
Group, which was discussing the socialist ideas of Fourier. But this group was not
serious as a, they were not trying to overthrow the government, whenever they
talked about things like that, it was on a very naive level. They had no
organization, no thought at all about overthrowing the government or taking over.
They just had idealistic notions about how wonderful it would be if everybody was
peaceful and harmonious, it were a perfect government and nobody oppressed
anybody else, and Fourier seemed to point to that.
Fourier was just a crazy man who lived in the West, crazy, that is, according
to, but he was in the spirit of the times. And later on he bequeathed this to people
like Marx who made this whole idea much more serious, made it so-called
scientific. But Fourier was dreaming about paradise with lemonade fountains
and all kinds of images like that. But this spirit of egalitarianism and socialism sort
of was in the air, that was the way the Western ideas were largely coming in from
Europe.
And Dostoyevsky was discussing these and dreaming about the bright
future, already writing novels. And then he was caught. That is, this group was
found out by the Tsars police.
They broke in and arrested him together with other people from his group. And he
was then sentenced to death. They thought it was a serious thing; they were going
to execute them and cut off the revolution at the root. But the Tsar had in mind -Tsar Nicholas I who had a very patronizing attitude towards his subjects -- that is,
he had a very personal interest in the fate of each subject. And he did this, he
allowed this death sentence to be given, intending to, not to carry it through, so that
his people would -- when they found themselves in front of the executioners and
then the sentence was postponed or abrogated -- come to their senses and repent.
And in the case of Dostoyevsky, it had just that effect. The other ones, I dont
know how they ended up. But he went through, of course, his whole life comes to
an end -- hes still a young man in his 30s, even late20s, and he sees the rifles
drawn in front of him -- his life comes to its end. What has he done? He
hasnt thought much about religion up till then. And then all of a sudden they say
the Tsar has pardoned you. You will have eight years in Siberia instead.
So he went to Siberia, and hes written in some of his books his experiences
in Siberia. He lived eight years in Siberia, he lived a very hard life. They slept on
hard boards, many people in a room. The food was poor, although Solzhenitsyn
makes a point of comparing accounts like the ones Dostoyevsky describes with
accounts of Communist prisons. And what sounds to us like a terrible time, after
he describes Communist prisons, then he describes Tsarist prisons -- its obvious
that the Tsarist prisons were quite luxurious compared to the Communist prisons.
Of course, Dostoyevsky, being a lower class, did not have a comfortable exile that
many of the upper class people did, who just lived like free citizens in exile. But
he went through this experience which, from the political side, made him, after
eight years in Siberia under very difficult times under a difficult regime, come out
a Tsarist, Orthodox Christian, and converted to the whole idea of Tsarism. It means
148

that there was something deep happening in him, and he reformed his whole ideas
about life, about Christianity, about where he was going, about the meaning of life.
But at the same time, thats from the philosophical side, his whole ideas are going
to about the Grand Inquisitor and the meaning of modern history and so forth. On
the Christian side, Id like to emphasize today, he went through some kind of a
special thing. He was converted to Christianity, Christian ideas, and he began to
write stories....[End 1980 Russian Literature Tape passage]
Quote The Possessed analyzes revolutionary mentality, both its
stupidities and deep thinkers: pp. 397-400 on Quintets ;
Virginsky himself was rather unwell that evening, but he came in and sat in
an easy chair by the tea table. All the guests were sitting down too, and the orderly
way in which they were ranged on chairs suggested a meeting. Evidently all were
expecting something and were filling up the interval with loud but irrelevant
conversation. When Stavrogin and Verkovensky appeared there was a sudden hush.
But I must be allowed to give a few explanations to make things clear.
I believe that all these people had come together in the agreeable expectation
of hearing something particularly interesting, and had notice of it beforehand. They
were the flower of the reddest Radicalism of our ancient town, and had been
carefully picked out by Virginsky for this meeting. I may remark, too, that some
of them (though not very many) had never visited him before. Of course most of
the guests had no clear idea why they had been summoned. It was true that at that
time all took Pyotr Stepanovitch for a fully authorized emissary from abroad; this
idea had somehow taken root among them at once and naturally flattered them.
And yet among the citizens assembled ostensibly to keep a name-day, there were
some who had been approached with definite proposals. Pyotr Verkovensky had
succeeded in getting together a quintet amongst us like the one he had already
formed in Moscow and, as appeared later, in our province among the officers. It
was said that he had another X province. This quintet of the elect were sitting now
at the general table, and very skillfully succeeded in giving themselves the air of
being quite ordinary people, so that no one could have known them. They were -since it is no longer a secret -- Liputin, then Virginsky himself, then Shigalov (a
gentleman with long ears, the brother of Madame Virginsky), Lyamshin, and lastly
a strange person called Tolkatchenko, a man of forty, who was famed for his vast
knowledge of the people, especially of thieves and robbers. He used to frequent the
taverns on purpose (though not only with the object of studying the people), and
plumed himself on his shabby clothes, tarred boots, and crafty wink and a flourish
of peasant phrases. Lyamshin had once or twice brought him to Stepan
Trofimovitch s gatherings, where,
however, he did not make a great sensation. He used to make his appearance in
the town from time to time, chiefly when he was out of a job; he was employed on
the railway.
Every one of these five champions had formed this first group in the fervent
conviction that their quintet was only one of hundreds and thousands of similar
149

groups scattered all over Russia, and that they all depended on some immense
central but secret power, which in its turn was intimately connected with the
revolutionary movement all over Europe. But I regret to say that even at that time
there was beginning to be dissension among them. Though they had ever since the
spring been expecting Pyotr Verkovensky, whose coming had been heralded first
by Tolkatchenko and then by the arrival of Shigalov, though they had expected
extraordinary miracles from him, and though they had responded to his first
summons without the slightest criticism, yet they had no sooner formed the quintet
than they all somehow seemed to feel insulted; and I really believe it was owing to
the promptitude with which they consented to join. They had joined, of course,
from a not ignoble feeling of shame, for fear people might say afterwards that they
had not dared to join; still they felt Pyotr Verkovensky ought to have appreciated
their heroism and have rewarded it by telling them some really important bits of
news at least. But Verkovensky was not at all inclined to satisfy their legitimate
curiosity, and told them nothing but what was necessary; he treated them in general
with great sternness and even rather casually. This was positively irritating, and
Comrade Shigalov was already egging the others on to insist on his explaining
himself, though, of course, not at Virginsky s, where so many outsiders were
present.
I have an idea that the above-mentioned members of the first quintet were
disposed to suspect that among the guests of Virginsky s that evening some were
members of other groups, unknown to them, belonging to the same secret
organization and founded in the town by the same Verkovensky; so that in fact all
present were suspecting one another, and posed in various ways to one another,
which gave the whole party a very perplexing and even romantic air. Yet there
were persons present who were beyond all suspicion. For instance a major in the
service, a near relation of Virginsky, a perfectly innocent person who had not been
invited but had come of himself for the name-day celebration, so that it was
impossible not to receive him. But Virginsky was quite unperturbed, as the major
was incapable of betraying them ; for in spite of his stupidity he had all his life
been fond of dropping in wherever extreme Radicals met; he did not sympathize
with their ideas himself, but was very fond of listening to them. What s more, he
had even been compromised indeed. It had happened in his youth that whole
bundles of manifestoes and of numbers of The Bell had passed through his hands,
and although he had been afraid even to open them, yet he would have considered
it absolutely contemptible to refuse to distribute them -- and there are such people
in Russia even to this day.
The rest of the guests were either types of honorable amour-propre crushed
and embittered, or types of the generous impulsiveness of ardent youth. There
were two or three teachers, of whom one, a lame man of forty-five, a master in the
high school, was a very malicious and strikingly vain person; and two or three
officers. Of the latter, one very young artillery officer who had only just come
from a military training school, a silent lad who had not yet made friends with
anyone, turned up now at Virginsky s with a pencil in his hand, and scarcely taking
any part in the conversation, continually made notes in his notebook. Everybody
150

saw this, but every one pretended not to. There was, too, an idle divinity student
who had helped Lyamshin to put indecent photographs into the gospel-woman s
pack. He was a solid youth with a free-and-easy though mistrustful manner, with
an unchangeably satirical smile, together with a calm air of triumphant faith in his
own perfection. There was also present, I don t know why, the mayor s son, that
unpleasant and prematurely exhausted youth to whom I have referred already in
telling the story of the lieutenant s little wife. He was silent the
whole evening. Finally there was a very enthusiastic and tousle-headed schoolboy
of eighteen, who sat with the gloomy air of a young man whose dignity has been
wounded, evidently distressed by his eighteen years. This infant was already the
head of an independent group of conspirators which had been formed in the
highest class of the gymnasium, as it came out afterwards to the surprise of every
one.
I haven t mentioned Shatov. He was there at the farthest corner of the table,
his chair pushed back a little out of the row. He gazed at the ground, was gloomily
silent, refused tea and bread, and did not for one instant let his cap go out of his
hand, as though to show that he was not a visitor, but had come on business, and
when he liked would get up and go away. Kirillov was not far from him. He, too,
was very silent, but he did not look at the ground; on the contrary, he scrutinized
intently every speaker with his fixed, lustreless eyes, and listened to everything
without the slightest emotion or surprise. Some of the visitors who had never seen
him before stole thoughtful glances at him. I can t say whether Madame Virginsky
knew anything about the existence of the quintet. I imagine she knew everything
and from her husband. The girl-student, of course, took no part in anything; but she
had an anxiety for her own: she intended to stay only a day or two and then to go
on farther and farther from one university town to another to show active
sympathy with the sufferings of poor students and to rouse them to protest. She
was taking with her some hundreds of copies of a lithographed appeal, I believe of
her own composition. It is remarkable that the schoolboy conceived an almost
murderous hatred for her from the first moment, though he saw her for the first
time in his life; and she felt the same for him. The major was her uncle, and met
her today for the first time after ten years. When Stavrogin and Verkovensky came
in, her cheeks were as red as cranberries: she had just quarreled with her uncle over
his views on the woman question. lxxxv
409-413, 415 on Shigalov.
Shigalov went on.
Dedicating my energies to the study of the social organization which is in the
future to replace the present condition of things, I ve come to the conviction that all
makers of social systems from ancient times up to the present year, 187-, have been
dreamers, tellers of fairy-tales, fools who contradicted themselves, who understood
nothing of natural science and the strange animal called man. Plato, Rousseau,
Fourier, columns of aluminum, are only fit for sparrows and not for human society.
But, now that we are all at last preparing to act, a new form of social organization
151

is essential. In order to avoid further uncertainty, I propose my own system of


world-organization. Here it is. He tapped the notebook. I wanted to expound my
views to the meeting in the most concise form possible, but I see that I should need
to add a great many verbal explanations, and so the whole exposition would
occupy at least ten evenings, one for each of my chapters. (There was the sound of
laughter.) I must add, besides, that my system is not yet complete. (Laughter
again.) I am perplexed by my own data and my conclusion is a direct contradiction
of my original idea with which I start. Starting from unlimited freedom, I arrive at
unlimited despotism. I will add, however, that there can be no solution of the social
problem but mine.
The laughter grew louder and louder, but it came chiefly from the younger
and less initiated visitors. There was an expression of some annoyance on the faces
of Madame Virginsky, Liputin, and the lame teacher.
If you ve been unsuccessful in making your system consistent, and have
been reduced to despair yourself, what could we do with it? one officer observed
warily.
You are right, Mr. Officer, Shigalov turned sharply to him -- especially
using the word despair. Yes, I am reduced to despair. Nevertheless, nothing can
take the place of the system set forth in my book, and there is no other way out of
it; no one can invent anything else. And so I hasten without loss of time to invite
the whole society to listen for ten evenings to my book and then give their
opinions of it. If the members are unwilling to listen to me, let us break up from
the start -- the men to take up service under government, the women to their
cooking; for if you reject my solution you ll find no other, none whatever! If they
let the opportunity slip, it will simply be their loss, for they will be bound to come
back to it again. There was a stir in the company. Is he mad, or what? voices
asked.
So the whole point lies in Shigalov s despair, Lyamshin commented, and
the essential question is whether he must despair or not?
Shigalov s being on the brink of despair is a personal question, declared the
schoolboy.
I propose we put it to a vote how far Shigalov s despair affects the common
cause, and at the same time whether it s worth while listening to him or not, an
officer suggested gaily.
That s not right. The lame teacher put in his spoke at last. As a rule he spoke
with a rather mocking smile, so that it was difficult to make out whether he was in
earnest or joking. That s not right, gentlemen. Mr. Shigalov is too much devoted to
his task and is also too modest. I know his book. He suggests as a final solution of
the question the division of mankind into two unequal parts. One-tenth enjoys
absolute liberty and unbounded power over the other nine-tenths. The others have
to give up all individuality and become, so to speak, a herd, and, through boundless
submission will by a series of regenerations, attain primeval innocence, something
like the Garden of Eden. They ll have to work, however. The measures proposed
by the author for depriving nine-tenths of mankind of their freedom and
transforming them into a herd through the education of whole generations are very
152

remarkable, founded on the facts of nature and highly logical. One may not agree
with some of the deductions, but it would be difficult to doubt the intelligence and
knowledge of the author. It s a pity that the time required -- ten evenings -- is
impossible to arrange for, or we might hear a great deal that s interesting.
Can you be in earnest? Madame Virginsky addressed the lame gentleman
with a shade of positive uneasiness in her voice, when that man doesn t know what
to do with people and so turns nine-tenths of them into slaves? I ve suspected him
for a long time.
You say that of your own brother? asked the lame man.
Relationship? Are you laughing at me?
And besides, to work for aristocrats and to obey them as though they were
gods is contemptible! observed the girl-student fiercely.
What I propose is not contemptible; it s paradise, an earthly paradise, and
there can be no other on earth, Shigalov pronounced authoritatively.
For my part, said Lyamshin, if I didn t know what to do with ninetenths
of mankind, I d take them and blow them up into the air instead of putting them in
paradise. I d only leave a handful of educated people, who would live happily ever
afterwards on scientific principles.
No one but a buffoon can talk like that! cried the girl, flaring up.
He is a buffoon, but he is of use, Madame Virginsky whispered to her.
And possibly that would be the best solution of the problem, said Shigalov,
turning hotly to Lyamshin. You certainly don t know what a profound thing you
ve succeeded in saying, my merry friend. But as it s hardly possible to carry out
your idea, we must confine ourselves to an earthly paradise, since that s what they
call it.
That s pretty thorough rot, broke, as though involuntarily, from
Verkovensky. Without even raising his eyes, however, he went on cutting his
nails with perfect nonchalance.
Why is it rot? The lame teacher took it up instantly, as though he had been
lying in wait for his first words to catch at them. Why is it rot? Mr. Shigalov is
somewhat fanatical in his love for humanity, but remember that Fourier, still more
Cabet and even Proudhon himself, advocated a number of the most despotic and
even fantastic measures. Mr. Shigalov is perhaps far more sober in his suggestions
than they are. I assure you that when one reads his book it s almost impossible not
to agree with some things. He is perhaps less far from realism than anyone and his
earthly paradise is almost the real one -- if it ever existed -- for the loss of which
man is always sighing.
I knew I was in for something, Verkovensky muttered again.
Allow me, said the lame man, getting more and more excited.
Conversations and arguments about the future organization of society are almost
an actual necessity for all thinking people nowadays. Herzen was occupied with
nothing else all his life. Byelinksky, as I know on very good authority, used to
spend whole evenings with his friends debating and settling beforehand even the
minutest, so to speak, domestic, details of the social organization of the future.
Some people go crazy over it, the major observed suddenly.
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We are more likely to arrive at something by talking, anyway, than by sitting


silent and posing as dictators, Liputin hissed, as though at last venturing to begin
the attack.
I didn t mean Shigalov when I said it was rot, Verkovensky mumbled. You
see, gentlemen, -- he raised his eyebrows a trifle -- to my mind all these books,
Fourier, Cabet, all this talk about the right to work, and Shigalov s theories -- are
all like novels of which one can write a hundred thousand -- an aesthetic
entertainment. I can understand that in this little town you are bored, so you rush
to ink and paper.
Excuse me, said the lame man, wriggling on his chair, though we are
provincials and of course objects of commiseration on that ground, yet we know
that so far nothing has happened in the world new enough to be worth our
weeping at having missed it. It is suggested to us in various pamphlets made
abroad and secretly distributed that we should unite and form groups with the sole
object of bringing about universal destruction. It s urged that, however much you
tinker with the world, you can t make a good job of it, but that by cutting off a
hundred million heads and so lightening one s burden, one can jump over the
ditch more safely. A fine idea, no doubt, but quite as impractical as Shigalov s
theories, which you referred to just now so contemptuously.
Well, but I haven t come here for discussion. Verkovensky let drop this
significant phrase, and, as though quite unaware of his blunder, drew the candle
nearer to him that he might see better.
It s a pity, a great pity, that you haven t come for discussion, and it s a great
pity that you are so taken up just now with your toilet.
What s my toilet to you?
To remove a hundred million heads is as difficult as to transform the world
by propaganda. Possibly more difficult, especially in Russia, Liputin ventured
again.
It s Russia they rest their hopes on now, said an officer.
We ve heard they are resting their hopes on it, interposed the lame man.
We know that a mysterious finger is pointing to our delightful country as the land
most fitted to accomplish the great task. But there s this: by the gradual solution of
the problem by propaganda I shall gain something, anyway -- I shall have some
pleasant talk, at least, and shall even get some recognition from government for
my services to the cause of society. But in the second way, by the rapid method of
cutting off a hundred million heads, what benefit shall I get personally? If you
begin advocating that, your tongue might be cut out.
Yours certainly would be, observed Verkovensky.
You see. And as under the most favorable circumstances you would not get
through such a massacre in less than fifty or at the best thirty years -- for they are
not sheep, you know, and perhaps they would not let themselves be slaughtered - wouldn t it be better to pack one s bundle and migrate to some quiet island beyond
calms seas and there close one s eyes tranquilly? Believe me -- he tapped the table
significantly with his finger -- you will only promote emigration by such
propaganda and nothing else!
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He finished evidently triumphant. He was one of the intellects of the


province.... lxxxvi
415 on Shigalov.
[Verkovensky speaking]...To cut the matter short -- for we can t go on
talking for another thirty years as people have done for the last thirty -- I ask you
which you prefer: the slow way, which consists in the composition of socialistic
romances and the academic ordering of the destinies of humanity a thousand years
hence, while despotism will swallow the savory morsels which would almost fly
into your mouths of themselves if you d take a little trouble; or do you, whatever it
may imply, prefer a quicker way which will at last untie your hands, and will let
humanity make its own social organization in freedom and in action, not on paper?
They shout a hundred million heads ; that may be only a metaphor; but why be
afraid of it if, with the slow day-dreams on paper, despotism in the course of some
hundred years will devour not a hundred but five hundred million heads? Take note
too that an incurable invalid will not be cured whatever prescriptions are written
for him on paper. On the contrary, if there is delay, he will grow so corrupt that he
will infect us too and contaminate all the fresh forces which one might still reckon
upon now, so that we shall all at last come to grief together. I thoroughly agree that
it s extremely agreeable to chatter liberally and eloquently, but action is a little
trying.... However, I am no hand at talking; I came here with communications, and
so I beg all the honorable company not to vote, but simply and directly to state
which you prefer: walking at a snails pace in the marsh, or putting on full steam to
get across it?
I am certainly for crossing at full steam! cried the schoolboy in an ecstasy.
So am I, Lyamshin chimed in.
There can be no doubt about the choice, muttered an officer, followed by
another, then by some one else. What struck them all most was that Verkovensky
had come with communications and had himself just promised to speak.
Gentlemen, I see that almost all decide for the policy of the manifestoes,
he said, looking round at the company.
All, all! cried the majority of voices. lxxxvii
- Shigalov is a man of genius! Do you know he is a genius like Fourier, but
bolder than Fourier; stronger. I ll look after him. He s discovered equality !
He is in a fever; he is raving; something very queer has happened to him,
thought Stavrogin, looking at him once more. Both walked on without stopping.
He s written a good thing in that manuscript, Verkovensky went on. He
suggest a system of spying. Every member of the society spies on the others. and it
s his duty to inform against them. Every one belongs to all and all to every one. All
are slaves and equal in their slavery. In extreme cases he advocates slander and
murder, but the great thing about it is equality. To begin with, the level of
education, science, and talents is lowered. A high level of education and science is
only possible for great intellects, and they are not wanted. The great intellects have
always seized the power and been despots. Great intellects cannot help being
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despots and they ve always done more harm than good. They will be banished or
put to death. Cicero will have his tongue cut out, Copernicus will have his eyes put
out eyes, Shakespeare will be stoned -- that s Shigalovism. Slaves are bound to be
equal. There has never been either freedom or equality without despotism, but in
the herd there is bound to be equality and that s Shigalovism. Ha ha ha! Do you
think it strange? I am for Shigalovism. ...
Listen, Stavrogin. To level the mountains is a fine idea, not an absurd one. I
m all for Shigalov! Down with culture. We ve had enough science! Even Without
science we have material enough to go on for a thousand years, but one must have
discipline. The one thing wanting in the world is discipline. The thirst for culture is
an aristocratic thirst. The moment you have family ties or love you get the desire
for property. We will destroy that desire; we make use of drunkenness, slander,
spying; we ll make us e of incredible corruption; we ll stifle every genius in its
infancy. We ll reduce all to a common denominator! Complete equality! We ve
learned a trade; and we are honest men; we need nothing more, that was an answer
given by English working-men recently. Only the necessary is necessary, that s the
motto of the whole world henceforward. But it needs a shock. That s for us, the
directors, to look after. Slaves must have directors. Absolute submission, absolute
loss of individuality, but once in thirty years Shigalov would let them have a shock
and they would all suddenly begin eating one another up, to a certain point, simply
as a precaution against boredom. Boredom is an aristocratic sensation. The
Shigalovians will have no desires. Desire and suffering are our lot, but
Shigalovism is for the slaves.
You exclude yourself? Stavrogin broke in again.
You, too. Do you know, I have thought of giving up the world to the Pope.
Let him come forth on foot, and barefoot, and show himself to the rabble, saying,
See what they have brought me to! and they will all rush after him, even the
troops. The Pope at the head, with us around him, and below us -Shigalovism. All that s needed is that the Internationale should come to an
agreement with the Pope, so it will. And the old chap will agree at once. There s
nothing else he can do. lxxxviii
Kirillov later on new religion.
[Taken from 1980 Survival Course Lecture on Nietzsche]
And then he has this man, this character Kirillov, who is the philosopher
who came to the conclusion since theres no God, I must be god. And if Im god, I
have to do something that proves Im god. And you cant just live an ordinary life.
Therefore, you must do something which is spectacular. It must be something
which is absolute and proves that you have authority over yourself. Course the
main proof that you have authority is over your own life -- therefore to prove that I
am god -- I must kill myself. Thats the logic. To us it makes no sense. That man is
crazy. But it makes perfect sense, and once you reject Christianity, thats very
logical. [End 1980 quote]
- I am bound to show my unbelief, said Kirillov, walking about the room.
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I have no higher idea than disbelief in God. I have all the history of mankind on
my side. Man has done nothing but invent God so as to go on living, and not kill
himself; that s the whole of universal history up till now. I am the first one in the
whole of human history who would not invent God. let them know it once for all.
...Do you understand now that the salvation for consists in proving this idea
to every one? Who will prove it? I! I can t understand how an atheist could know
that there is no God and not kill himself on the spot. To recognize that there is no
God and not to recognize at the same instant that one is God oneself is an
absurdity, else one would certainly kill oneself. If you recognize it you are
sovereign, and then you won t kill yourself but will live in the greatest glory. But
one, the first, must kill himself, for else who will begin and prove it? So I must
certainly kill myself, to begin and prove it. Now I am only a god against my will
and I am unhappy, because I am bound to assert my will. All are unhappy because
all are afraid to express their will. Man has hitherto been so unhappy and so poor
because he has been afraid to assert his will in the highest point and has shown his
self-will only in little things, like a schoolboy. I am awfully unhappy, for I am
awfully afraid. Terror is the curse of man.... But I will assert my will. I am bound
to believe that I don t believe. I will begin and make an end of it and open the door,
and will save. That s the only thing that will save mankind and will recreate the
next generation physically; for with this present physical nature man can t get on
without his former God, I believe. For three years I ve been seeking for the
attribute of my godhead and I ve found it; the attribute of my godhead is self-will!
That s all I can do to prove in the highest point my independence and my new
terrible freedom. For it is terrible. I am killing myself to prove my independence
and my new terrible freedom. lxxxix
[Taken from 1980 Survival Course Lecture on Nietzsche] Therefore, finally,
since he has human nature, hes scared of killing himself and hes constantly
hesitating, then along comes a character like Lenin, whos this
Verkhovensky, who uses this, tries to persuade him to kill himself and then
blame it on somebody else in order to gain some kind of a disorder so that
his revolutionary circle could begin to take over. And he finally persuades
him. He says, All right, go on, kill yourself. Sign this paper that says that
youll down with the capitalists and so forth, and then kill yourself. Ill stand
right here and hold the door open for you. And he says, No, I cant. I must
do it on a big scale. I must do it in front of everybody. He says, No, no,
just do it quiet here. And the note is all written here. And I think he finally
pushes him, finally kills himself. These kind of people are with us. Theyre
all over the place. [End 1980 quote]
(2) Crime and Punishment: on man who want to be beyond good and
evil, kills for an idea Napoleon Superman. But ends in repentance and
opening of Christian life.
[Taken from Fr. Ss taped lecture on Russian literature]
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...although a large part of the book [Crime and Punishment] is before he kills the
woman, he is constantly thinking that he should do it, and he goes through these,
its basically Nietzsches idea that if there is no God, then everything is permitted.
And this of course has its philosophical, political form, but from the Christian point
of view this means that I can do anything. And he keeps thinking of Napoleon.
Heres a man who comes from the ranks, and he goes out, becomes the leader of a
country. And hes allowed to kill whoever he wants, just because hes the head of
the country. That means there must be a class of Supermen.
Its based upon entirely, in fact, this is, the kingdoms of this world vs. the
kingdom of Christ. According to the kingdom of Christ we all must humble
ourselves before God. And according to the philosophy of the world, of the power
of this world, there are some people who are strong. If youre strong you have the
right to trample on others. Hes Machiavellian: government can do ups(?) as long
as the prince has the power. Or Nietzsche: that you can do anything you want as
long as you are one of these Supermen.
And so hes going through these agonizing dialogues with himself. He goes
and visits the woman. He sees how she behaves. Hes casing the joint, seeing how
he will do it, where she goes, where she keeps the money. And theres a second
woman, her sister, it is? And the one he begins to build in his mind an image that
shes hateful, shes just like an insect. All these actually un-Christian things that
they come from rationalistic ideas which were coming from the West. And you
look at what Marx came up with in the West, actually the idea that you can go and
do whatever you want just as long as you take over, make people violent. Its part
of the idea that while the revolution goes on when people kill somebody else, it
makes them violent. And therefore they can be tools for the revolution. In other
words people are to be used as things. Thats exactly the opposite of
Christianity.
But his conscience is there; he cant help it. And therefore he keeps
hesitating, and he condemns himself, Are you so weak, you cant do it? Hes
accusing himself. Youre supposed to be a Superman and you cant do it, you
cant go through with it! And finally he gets the nerve, and goes and hits, I think
debates whether he should kill them both or just one. Finally he gets...
...[The other woman] comes in or something at the last minute. He didnt
want to kill her and he gets all upset by that, and decides he has to kill her too. And
then hes stuck. I think he takes hardly any money -- just a little. He gets so
hysterical he goes and hides it someplace. And then begins his torments. If hes
Superman he should feel absolutely cool and calm. Shes just a flea, some kind of
insect. She doesnt need to live, and Im the Superman. Im going to prepare
myself by college education so I can help the Western ideas to come to enlighten
Russia. But meanwhile his conscience begins to operate and he cannot understand
why hes not at peace. For one thing he faults himself because he didnt get enough
money. But then, something happens inside of him, and shows this Christianity
cannot be, the conscience planted by God and developed by the Christian Church
cannot be silenced. And then begins this terrible duel between him and this
interrogator who is investigating the case, and he never knows whether he knows
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he did it, suspects he did it, whether he suspects somebody else, but is
constantly...if he didnt have a bad conscience, he wouldnt have any problem.
And in the end it turns out that this interrogator is just waiting for him to
confess. And he finally says, Who do you think it is? Tell me. And he said,
Why, its you, Rodya Romanovitch. You killed her. But Im waiting for you to
come by yourself and tell us. And so he almost goes crazy. What should he do?
Should he run away?
And then he meets this girl Sonya, who is a prostitute, that is the lowest
element of society, and outside Christianity, Christian sympathy or anything. Why
is she a prostitute? Because she has to support her mother. And she didnt want to
do it; she has Christian faith. But she has to; its the only way she can get money.
In other words this absolutely helpless, pitiful creature.
And shes going to be the one that saves this man who is deluded by these Western
ideas. And he begins to talk to her. She shows the Gospel. Oh. Gospel, anything
but the Gospel! And she begins to talk about Jesus Christ. And gradually his heart
begins to soften. And finally he goes to her, I think at the end, to decide whether he
should give himself up. And he says, What shall I do? Theyll send me to Siberia
and finished. And she said, Oh, Ill come with you to Siberia. And he went, how
can this be someone like that, the lowest dregs of society? And she, she loves me?
That shell come to Siberia to be with me? And he finally is so crushed, he finally
got, he gets on his knees before the police station and says, I DID IT! Kill me,
take me away!
And this is a very strong thing, by the way, in the Russian
temperament.
Well, with [Sophia], the case was that she preserved her Orthodoxy, her
Christianity, even though externally she was a sinner, she couldnt receive
Communion, she was constantly in a state of sin. And he of his own free will went
away from it, and therefore this purity, actually the purity of Christianity remained
in her even though she was, in fact, the fact that she was a sinner probably even
increased it because she knew that she was no good, the last dregs of society, she
was a hopeless case. And yet she retained Jesus Christ, and therefore she could
preach the Gospel to this sophisticated, although he wasnt too sophisticated, just
a student, but still he had these high ideas, and eventually melt his heart and
convert him. And then it says they went to Siberia, and he begins I think to
describe a little of it, and then he says the rest of the story is a different story. He
doesnt tell you what happened in Siberia. Because he went to Siberia and came
back a converted man himself.
Thats probably the, the most perfect as a work of art of Dostoyevsky -- its
all complete in one, one volume; he doesnt just sort of go over his head. [End
Russian Literature Lecture passage]
(3) Grand Inquisitor:
[Taken from the 1980 Survival Course Lecture on Nietzsche] The Brothers
Karamozov presents the same cold, calculating Western mentality. Ivan
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Karamazov is theorizing about sort of his ideas of the Grand Inquisitor, its
presented as his idea. By the way Dostoyevsky makes clear there thats theres
some kind of a little man in the stove pipe who keeps coming to him, its an image
of the devil, the fact that he was in contact with some other power, who gives him
his wonderful ideas and he comes up with this idea about -- he keeps thinking
Christianity cant, he has a debates with Alyosha, the young brother whos
supposed to be the hero. Alyosha wants true Christianity, and he sees his brothers
are tormented. They dont have peace, and his fathers a rascal, old-type
devoshid(?), and his children are, this Ivan who is cold, calculating type, no faith
in Christ, he cant believe everything Alyosha says about Christ.
(a) Ivan Karamazov s philosophy: 245-8,
To begin with, for the sake of being Russian. Russian conversations on such
subjects are always carried on inconceivably stupidly. And secondly, the stupider
one is, the closer one is to reality. The stupider on is the clearer one is. Stupidity is
brief and artless, while intelligence wriggles and hides itself. Intelligence is a
knave, but stupidity is honest and straightforward. I ve led the conversation to my
despair, and the more stupidly I have presented it, the better for me.
You will explain why you don t accept the world? said Alyosha.
To be sure I will, it s not a secret, that s what I ve been leading up to. Dear
little brother, I don t want to corrupt you or to turn you from your stronghold,
perhaps I want to be healed by you. Ivan smiled suddenly quite like a gentle child.
Alyosha had never seen such a smile on his face before.
4. Rebellion
I must make you one confession, Ivan began. I could never understand
how one can love one s neighbors. It s just one s neighbors, to my mind, that one
can t love, though one might love those at a distance. I once read somewhere of
John the Merciful, a saint, that when a hungry, frozen beggar came to him, he took
him into his bed, held him in his arms, and began breathing into his mouth, which
was putrid and loathsome from some awful disease. I am convinced that he did
that from self-laceration, from the self-laceration of falsity, for the sake of the
charity imposed by duty, as a penance laid on him. For any one to love a man, he
must be hidden, for as soon as he shows his face, love is gone.
Father Zossima has talked of that more than once, observed Alyosha, he,
too, said that the face of a man often hinders many people not practiced in love,
from loving him. But yet there s a great deal of love in mankind, and almost
Christ-like love. I know myself, Ivan.
Well, I know nothing of it so far,and can t understand it, and the innumerable
mass of mankind are with me there. The question is, whether that s due to men s
bad qualities or whether it s inherent in their nature. To my thinking, Christ-like
love for men is a miracle impossible on earth. He was God. But we are not gods.
Suppose I, for instance, suffer intensely. Another can never know how much I
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suffer, because he is another and not I. And what s more, a man is rarely ready to
admit another s suffering (as though it were a distinction). Why won t he admit it,
do you think? Because I smell unpleasant, because I have a stupid face, because I
once trod on his foot. Besides there is suffering and suffering; degrading,
humiliating suffering such as humbles me -- hunger, for instance, -- my benefactor
will perhaps allow me; but when you come to higher suffering -- for an idea, for
instance -- he will very rarely admit that, perhaps because my face strikes him as
not at all what he fancies a man should have who suffer for an idea. And so he
deprives me instantly of his favor, and not at all from badness of heart. Beggars,
especially genteel beggars, ought never to show themselves, but to ask for charity
through the newspapers. One can love one s neighbor in the abstract, or even at a
distance, in the ballet, where if beggars come in, they wear silken rags and tattered
lace and beg for alms dancing gracefully, then one might like looking at them. But
even then we should not love them. But enough of that. I simply wanted to show
you my point of view. I meant to speak of the suffering of mankind generally,but
we had better confine ourselves to the sufferings of the children. That reduces the
scope of my argument to a tenth of what it would be. Still we d better keep to the
children, though it does weaken my case. But, in the first place, children can be
loved even at close quarters, even when they are dirty, even when they are ugly (I
fancy, though, children never are ugly). The second reason why I don t speak of
grown-up people is that, besides being disgusting and unworthy of love, they have
a compensation -- they ve eaten the apple and know good from evil, and they have
become like god. They go on eating it still. But the children haven t eaten
anything, and are so far innocent. Are you fond of children, Alyosha? I know you
are, and you will understand why I prefer to speak of them. If they, too suffer
horribly on earth, they must suffer for their fathers sins, they must be punished for
their fathers, who have eaten the apple; but that reasoning is of the other world and
is incomprehensible for the heart of man here on earth. The innocent must not
suffer for another s sins, and especially such innocents! You may be surprised at
me, Alyosha, but I am awfully fond of children, too. And observe, cruel people, the
violent, the rapacious, the Karamazovs are sometimes very fond of children.
Children while they are quite little -- up to seven, for instance -- are so remote from
grown-up people; they are different creatures, as it were, of a different species. I
knew a criminal in prison who had, in the course of his career as a burglar,
murdered whole families, including several children. But when he was in prison,
he had a strange affection for them. He spent all his time at his window, watching
the children playing in the prison yard. He trained one little boy to come up to his
window and made great friends with him.... You don t know why I am telling you
all this, Alyosha? My head aches and I am sad.
You speak with a strange air, observed Alyosha uneasily, as though you
were not quite yourself.
By the way, a Bulgarian I met lately in Moscow, Ivan went on, seeming not
to hear his brother s words, told me about the crimes committed by Turks and
Circassians in all parts of Bulgaria through fear of a general rising of the Slavs.
They burn villages, murder, outrage women and children, they nail their prisoners
161

by the ears to the fences, leave them so till morning, and in the morning they hang
them -- all sorts of things you can t imagine. People talk sometimes of bestial
cruelty, but that s a great injustice and insult to the beasts; a beast can never be so
cruel as a man, so artistically cruel. The tiger only tears and gnaws, that s all he can
do. He would never think of nailing people by the ears, even if he were able to do
it. These Turks took a pleasure in torturing children, too; cutting the unborn child
from the mothers womb, and tossing babies up in the air and catching them on the
points of their bayonets before their mother s eyes. Doing it before the mother s
eyes was what gave zest to the amusement. Here is another scene that I thought
very interesting. Imagine a trembling mother with her baby in her arms, a circle of
invading Turks around her. They ve planned a diversion; they pet a baby, laugh to
make it laugh. They succeed, the baby laughs. At that moment a Turk points a
pistol four inches from the baby s face. The baby laughs with glee, holds out its
little hands to the pistol, and he pulls the trigger in the baby s face and blows out its
brains. Artistic, wasn t it? By the way, Turks are particularly fond of sweet things,
they say.
Brother, what are you driving at? asked Alyosha.
I think if the devil doesn t exist, but man has created him, he has created him
in his own image and likeness.
Just as he did God, then? observed Alyosha.
It s wonderful how you can turn words, as Polonius says in Hamlet,
laughed Ivan. You turn my words against me. Well, I am glad. Yours must be a
fine God, if man created Him in His image and likeness. You asked just now what I
was driving at. You see, I am fond of collecting certain facts, and, would you
believe, I even copy anecdotes of a certain sort from newspapers and books, and I
ve already got a fine collection. The Turks, of course, have gone into it, but they
are foreigners. I have specimens from home that are even better than the Turks.
You know we prefer beating -- rods and scourges -- that s our national institution.
Nailing ears is unthinkable for us, for we are, after all, Europeans. But the rod and
the scourge we have always with us and they cannot be taken from us. Abroad now
they scarcely do any beating. Manners are more humane, or laws have been
passed, so that they don t dare to flog men now. But they make up for it in another
way just as national as ours. And so national that it would be practically impossible
among us, though I believe we are being inoculated with it, since the religious
movement began in our aristocracy. I have a charming pamphlet, translated from
the French, describing how, quite recently, five years ago, a murderer, Richard, was
executed -- a young man. I believe, of three and twenty, who repented and was
converted to the Christian faith at the very scaffold. This Richard was an
illegitimate child who was given as a child of six by his parents to some shepherds
on the Swiss mountains. They brought him up to work for them. He grew up like a
little wild beast among them. The shepherds taught him nothing, and scarcely fed
or clothed him, but sent him out at seven to herd the flock in cold and wet, and no
one hesitated or scrupled to treat him so. Quite the contrary, they thought they had
every right, for Richard had been given to them as a chattel, and they did not even
see the necessity of feeding him. Richard himself describes how in those years, like
162

the Prodigal Son in the Gospel, he longed to eat of the mash given
to the pigs, which were fattened for sale. But they wouldn t even give him that,
and beat him when he stole from the pigs. And that was how he spent all his
childhood and his youth, till he grew up and was strong to go away and be a thief.
The savage began to earn his living as a day laborer in Geneva. He drank what he
earned, he lived like a brute, and finished by killing and robbing an old man, He
was caught, tired, and condemned to death. They are not sentimentalists there. And
in prison he was immediately surrounded by pastors, members of Christian
brotherhoods, philanthropic ladies, and the like. They taught him to read and write
in prison, and expounded the Gospel to him. They exhorted him, worked upon
him. drummed at him incessantly, till at last he solemnly confessed his crime. xc
253-5.
What comfort is to me that there are none guilty and that cause follows effect
simply and directly, and that I know it -- I must have justice, or I will destroy
myself. And not justice in some remote infinite time and space, but here on earth,
and that I could see myself. I have believed in it. I want to see it, and if I am dead
by then, let me rise again, for if it all happens without me, it will be too unfair.
Surely I haven t suffered, simply that I, my crimes and my sufferings, may manure
the soil of the future harmony for somebody else. I want to see with my own eyes
the hind lie down with the lion and the victim rise up and embrace his murderer. I
want to be there when every one suddenly understands what it has all been for. All
the religions of the world are built on this longing, and I am a believer. But then
there are the children, and what am I to do about them? That s a question I can t
answer. For the hundredth time I repeat, there are numbers of questions, but I ve
only taken the children, because in their case what I mean is so unanswerably clear.
Listen! If all must suffer to pay for the eternal harmony, what have children to do
with it, tell me, please? It s beyond all comprehension why they should suffer, and
why they should pay for the harmony. Why should they, too, furnish material to
enrich the soil for the harmony of the future? I understand solidarity in sin among
men. I understand solidarity in retribution, too; but there can be no such solidarity
with children. And if it is really true that they must share responsibility for all their
fathers crimes, such a truth is not of this world and is beyond my comprehension.
Some jester will say, perhaps, that the child would have grown up and have sinned,
but you see he didn t grow up, he was torn to pieces by dogs, at eight years old.
Oh, Alyosha, I am not blaspheming! I understand, of course, what an upheaval of
the universe it will be, when everything in heaven and earth blends in one hymn of
praise and everything that lives and has lived cries aloud: Thou art just, O Lord,
for Thy ways are revealed. When the mother embraces the fiend who threw her
child to the dogs, and all three cry aloud with tears, Thou art just, O Lord! then, of
course, the crown of knowledge will be reached and all will be clear. But what
pulls me up here is that I can t accept that harmony. And while I am here on earth, I
make haste to take my own measures. You see, Alyosha, perhaps it really may
happen that if I live to that moment, or rise again to see it, I, too, perhaps may cry
163

aloud with the rest, looking at the mother embracing the child s torturer, Thou art
just, O Lord! but I don t want to cry aloud then. While there is still time, I hasten
to protect myself and so I renounce the higher harmony altogether., It s not worth
the tears of that one tortured child who beat itself on the breast with its little fist
and prayed in its stinking outhouse, with its unexpiated tears to dear kind God ! It
s not worth it, because those tears are unatoned for. They must be atoned for, or
there can be no harmony. But how? How are you going to atone for them? Is it
possible? By their being avenged? But what do I care for avenging them? What do
I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have
already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to
forgive. I want to embrace. I don t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of
children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth,
then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price. I don t want the mother to
embrace the oppressor who threw her son to the dogs! She dare not forgive
him! Let her forgive him for herself, if she will, let her forgive the torturer for the
immeasurable suffering of her mother s heart. But the sufferings of her tortured
child she has no right to forgive; she dare not forgive the torturer, even if the child
were to forgive him! And if that is so, if they dare not forgive, what becomes of
harmony? Is there in the whole world a being who would have the right to forgive
and could forgive? I don t want harmony. From love for humanity I don t want it. I
would rather be left with the unavenged suffering. I would rather remain with my
unavenged suffering and unsatisfied indignation, even if I were wrong. Besides, too
high a price is asked for harmony; it s beyond our means to pay so much to enter
on it. And so I hasten to give back my entrance ticket, and if I am an honest man I
am bound to give it back as soon as possible. And that I am doing. It s not God that
I don t accept, Alyosha, only I most respectfully return Him the ticket.
That s rebellion, murmured Alyosha, looking down.
Rebellion? I am sorry you call it that, said Ivan earnestly. One can hardly
live in rebellion, and I want to live. Tell me yourself, I challenge you -- answer.
Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making
man happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last, but that it was essential
and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature -- that baby beating its
breast with its fist, for instance -- and to found that edifice on its unavenged tears,
would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me, and tell the
truth.
No, I wouldn t consent, said Alyosha softly.
And can you admit the idea that men for whom you are building it would
agree to accept their happiness on the foundation of the unexpiated blood of a
little victim? And accepting it would remain happy for ever?
No, I can t admit it. Brother, said Alyosha suddenly, with flashing eyes,
you said just now, is there a being in the whole world who would have the right to
forgive and could forgive? But there is a Being and He can forgive everything, all
and for all, because He gave His innocent blood for all and everything, You have
forgotten Him, and on Him is built the edifice, and it is to Him they cry aloud,
Thou art just, O LOrd, for Thy way are revealed!
164

Ah! the One without sin and His blood! No, I haven t forgotten Him; on the
contrary I ve been wondering all the time how it was you did not bring Him in
before, for usually all arguments on your side put Him in the foreground. Do you
know. Alyosha -- don t laugh! I made a poem about a year ago. If you can waste
another ten minutes on me, I ll tell it to you.
You wrote a poem?
Oh, no, I didn t write it, laughed Ivan, and I ve never written two lines of
poetry in my life. But I made up this poem in prose and I remembered it. I was
carried away when I made it up. You will be my first reader -- that is, listener.
Why should an author forego even one listener? smiled Ivan. Shall I tell it to
you?
I am all attention, said Alyosha.
My poem is called The Grand Inquisitor ; it s a ridiculous thing, but I
want to tell it to you. xci
(b) Grand Inquisitor
[Taken from the 1980 Survival Course Lecture on Nietzsche] Therefore he
devises this idea of the Grand Inquisitor which is meant to be the idea of
Antichrist, but based upon the ideas of the Roman Church, and that is all the bad
ideas of the Roman Church
which produced the Inquisition and this whole idea of calculation, taking over
from the true Christianity of the heart. So he produces this very somehow, sort of
revolutionary idea of a dictatorship in which people are given bread and circuses
with, and maybe even given religion but theres no reality behind it, that is, theres
no eternal life, no God. And the people are fooled to keep them quiet....
258-9,
He came in softly, unobserved, and yet, strange to say, every one
recognized Him. That might be one of the best passages in the poem. I mean, why
they recognize Him. The people are irresistibly drawn to Him, they surround Him,
they flock about Him, follow Him. He moves silently in their midst with a gentle
smile of infinite compassion. The sun of love burns in His heart, light and power
smile from His eyes, and their radiance, shed on people, stirs their hearts with
responsive love. He holds out His hands to them, blesses, them, and a healing
virtue comes from contact with Him, even with His garments. An old man in the
crown, blind from childhood, cries out, O Lord, heal me and I shall see Thee! and,
as it were, scales fall from his eyes and the blind man see Him. The crowd weeps
and kisses the earth under His feet. Children throw flowers before Him, sing, and
cry hosannah. It is He -- it is He! all repeat. It must be He, it can be no one but
Him! He stops at the steps of the Seville cathedral at the moment when the
weeping mourners are bringing in a little open white coffin. In if lies a child of
seven, the only daughter of a prominent citizen. The dead child lies hidden in
flowers. He will raise your child, the crowd shouts to the weeping mother. The
165

priest, coming to meet the coffin, looks perplexed, and frowns, but the mother of
the dead child throws herself at His feet with a wail. If it Thou, raise my child!
she cries, hold out her hands to Him. The procession halts, the coffin is laid on the
steps at His feet. He looks with compassion, and His lips once more softly
pronounce, Maiden, arise! and the maiden arises. The little girl sits up in the
coffin and looks around, smiling with wide-open wondering eyes, holding a bunch
of white roses they had put in her hand.
There are cries, sobs, confusion among the people, and at that moment the
cardinal himself, the Grand Inquisitor, passes by the cathedral. He is an old man,
almost ninety, tall and erect, with a withered face and sunken eyes, in which there
is still a gleam of light. He is not dressed in his gorgeous cardinal s robes, as he
was the day before, when he was burning the enemies of the Romans Church -- at
that moment he was wearing his coarse, old, monk s cassock. At a distance behind
him come his gloomy assistants and slaves and the holy guard. He stops at the
sight of the crown and watches it from a distance. He sees everything; he sees them
se the coffin down at His feet, sees the child rise up, and his face darkens. He knits
his thick grey brows and his eyes gleam with a sinister face. He holds out his finger
and bids the guards take Him. And such is his power, so completely ar the people
cowed into submission and trembling obedience to him, that the crowd
immediately make way for the guards, and in the midst of deathlike silence they
lay hands on Him and lead Him away. The crowd instantly bows down to the earth,
like one man, before the old inquisitor. He blesses the people in silence and passes
on. The guards lead their prisoner to the close, gloomy vaulted prison in the ancient
palace of the Holy Inquisition and shut Him in it. The day passes and is followed
by the dark, burning breathless night of Seville. The air is fragrant with laurel
and lemon. In the pitch darkness the iron door of the prison is suddenly opened
and the Grand Inquisitor himself comes in with a light in his hand. He stands in the
doorway and for a minute or two gazes into His face. At last he goes up slowly,
sets the light on the table and speaks.
Is it Thou? Thou? but receiving no answer, he adds at once, Don t answer,
be silent. What canst Thou say, indeed? I know too well what Thou wouldst say.
And Thou hast no right to add anything to what Thou hadst said of old. Why, then,
art Thou come to hinder us? For Thou hast come to hinder us, and Thou knowest
that. But dost Thou know what will be tomorrow? I know not who Thou art and
care not to know whether it is Thou or only a semblance of Him, but tomorrow I
shall condemn Thee and burn Thee at the stake as the worst of heretics. And the
very people who have today kissed Thy feet, tomorrow at the faintest sign from me
will rush to heap up the embers of Thy fire. Knowest Thou that? Yes, maybe Thou
knowest it, he added with thoughtful penetration, never for a moment taking his
eyes off the Prisoner.
I don t quite understand, Ivan. What does it mean? Alyosha, who had been
listening in silence, said with a smile. Is it simply a wild fantasy, or a mistake on
the part of the old man -- some impossible qui pro quo?
Take it as the last, said Ivan laughing, if you are so corrupted by modern
realism and can t stand anything fantastic. If you like it to be a case of mistaken
166

identity, let it be so. It is true, he went on laughing, the old man was ninety, and
he might well be crazy over his set idea. He might have been struck by the
appearance of the Prisoner. It might, in fact, be simply his ravings, the delusion of
an old man of
260-1,
ninety, over-excited by the auto-da f of a hundred heretics the day before.
But does it matter to us after all whether it was a mistake of identity or a wild
fantasy? All that matters is that the old man should speak out, should speak
openly of what he has thought in silence for ninety years.
And the Prisoner too is silent? Does He look at him and not say a word?
That s inevitable in any case, Ivan laughed again. The old man has told
Him He hasn t the right to add anything to what He has said of old. One may say it
is the most fundamental feature of Roman Catholicism, in my opinion at least. [Fr.
S s notes in Anarchism on the Grand Inquisitor begin here:] All has been given
by Thee to the Pope, they say, and all, therefore, is still in the Pope s hands, and
there is no need for Thee to come now at all. [Not in Fr. S s notes:] Thou must not
meddle for the time at least. That s how they speak and write too -- the Jesuits, at
any rate. I have read it myself in the works of their theologians. Hast Thou the
right to reveal to us one of the mysteries of that world from which Thou hast
come? my old man asks Him, and answers the question for Him. No, Thou hast
not; that Thou mayest not add to what has been said of old, and mayest not take
from men the freedom which Thou didst exalt when Thou wast on earth.
Whatsoever Thou revealest anew will encroach on men s freedom of faith; for it
will be manifest as a miracle, and the freedom of their faith was dearer to Thee
than anything in those days fifteen hundred years ago. Didst Thou not often say
then, I will make you free ? But now Thou has seen these free men, the old man
add suddenly, with a pensive smile. Yes, we ve paid dearly for it, he goes on,
looking sternly at Him, but at last we have completed that work in Thy name. For
fifteen centuries we have been wrestling with Thy freedom, but now it is ended
and over for good. Dost Thou not believe that it s over for good? Thou lookest
meekly at me and deignest not even to be wroth with me. But let me tell Thee that
now, today, people are more persuaded than ever that they have perfect freedom,
yet they have brought their freedom to us and laid it humbly at out feet. But that
has been our doing. Was this what Thou didst? Was this Thy freedom?
I don t understand again, Alyosha broke in. Is he ironical, is he jesting?
Not a bit of it! He claims it as a merit for himself and his Church that at last
they have vanquished freedom and have done so to make men happy. For now (he
is speaking of the Inquisition, of course) for the first time it has become possible
tothink of the happiness of men. Man was created a rebel; and how can rebels be
happy? Thou wast warned, he says to Him. Thou hast no lack of admonitions and
warnings, but Thou didst not listen to those warnings; Thou didst reject the only
way by which men might be made happy. But, fortunately, departing Thou didst
hand the work on to us. Thou hast promised, Thou hast established by Thy word,
167

Thou hast given to us the right to bind and to unbind, and now, of course, Thou
canst not think of taking it away. Why, then, hast Thou come to hinder us?
And what is the meaning of no lack of admonitions and warnings ? asked
Alyosha.
Why, that s the chief part of what the old man must say.
The wise and dread Spirit, the spirit of self-destruction and non-existence,
the old man goes on, the great spirit talked with Thee in the wilderness, and we
are told in the books that he tempted Thee. Is that so? And could anything truer
be said than what he revealed to Thee in three questions and what Thou didst
reject, and what in the books is called the temptation ? And yet if there has ever
been on earth a real stupendous miracle, it took place on that day, on the day of the
three temptations. The statement of those three questions was itself the miracle. If
it were possible to imagine simply for the sake of argument that those three
questions of the dread spirit had perished utterly from the books, and that we had
to restore them and to invent them anew, and to do so had gathered together all the
wise men of the earth -- rulers, chief priests, learned men, philosophers, poets -and had set them the task to invent three questions, such as would not only fit the
occasion, but express in three words, three human phrases, the whole future
history of the world and of humanity -- dost Thou believe that all the wisdom of
the earth united could have invented anything in depth and force equal to the three
questions which were actually put to Thee then by the wise and mighty spirit in
the wilderness? From those questions alone, from the miracle of their statement,
we can see that we have here to do not with the fleeting human intelligence, but
with absolute and eternal. For in those three questions the whole subsequent
history of mankind is, as it were, brought together into one whole, and foretold,
and in them are united all the unsolved historical contradictions of human nature.
At the time it could not be so clear, since the future was unknown; but now that
fifteen hundred years have passed, we see that everything in those three questions
was so justly divined and foretold, and has been so truly fulfilled, that nothing can
be added to them or taken from them. xcii
262-4.
Judge Thyself who was right -- Thou or he who questioned Thee then?
Remember the first question; its meaning, in other words, was this: Thou wouldst
go into the world, and art going with empty hands, with some promise of freedom
which men in their simplicity and their natural unruliness cannot even understand,
which they fear and dread -- for nothing has ever been more insupportable for a
man and a human society than freedom. But seest Thou these stones in this in this
parched and barren wilderness? Turn them into bread, and mankind will run after
Thee like a flock of sheep, grateful and obedient, though for ever trembling, lest
Thou withdraw Thy hand and deny them Thy bread. [Fr. S s notes continue:] But
Thou wouldst not deprive man of freedom and didst reject the offer, thinking, what
is that freedom if obedience is bought with bread? Thou didst reply that man lives
not by bread alone. But dost Thou know that for the sake of that earthly bread the
168

spirit of the earth will rise up against Thee and will strive with Thee and overcome
Thee, and all will follow him, crying, Who can compare with this beast? He has
given us fire from heaven! Dost Thou know that the ages will pass, and humanity
will proclaim by the lips of their sages that there is no crime, and therefore no sin;
there is only hunger? Feed men, and then ask of them virtue! that s what they ll
write on the banner, which they will raise against Thee, and with
which they will destroy Thy temple. Where Thy temple stood will rise a new
building; the terrible tower of Babel will be built again, [not in Fr. S s notes:] and
though, like the one of old, it will not be finished, yet Thou mightest have
prevented that new tower and have cut short the sufferings of men for a thousand
years; for they will come back to us after a thousand years of agony with their
tower. [Fr. S s notes continue:] They will seek us again, hidden underground in
catacombs, [not in Fr. S s notes:] for we shall be again persecuted and tortured. [Fr.
S s notes continue:] They will find us and cry to us, Feed us, for those who have
promised us fire from heaven haven t given it! And then we shall finish building
their tower, for he finishes the building who feeds them. And we alone shall feed
them in Thy name, [not in Fr. S s notes:] Oh, never, never can they feed themselves
without us! [Fr. S s notes continue:] No science will give them bread so long as
they remain free. In the end they will lay their freedom at our feet,and say to us,
Make us your slaves, but feed us. They will understand themselves, at last, that
freedom and bread enough for all are inconceivable together, for never, never will
they be able to share between them! [not in Fr. S s notes:] They will be convinced,
too, that they can never be free, for they are weak, vicious, worthless and
rebellious. Thou didst promise them the bread of Heaven, but, I repeat again, can it
compare with earthly bread in the eyes of the weak, ever sinful and ignoble race of
man? And if for the sake of the bread of Heaven thousands and tens of thousands
shall follow Thee, what is to become of the millions and tens of thousands of
millions of creatures who will not have the strength to forego the earthly bread for
the sake of the heavenly? Or dost Thou care only for the tens of thousands of the
great and strong, while the millions, numerous as the sands of the sea, who are
weak but love Thee, must exist only for the sake of the great and strong? No, we
care for the weak too. They are sinful and rebellious, but in the end they too will
become obedient. They will marvel at us and look on us as gods, because we are
ready to endure the freedom which they have found so dreadful and to rule over
them -- so awful it will seem to them to be free. But we shall tell them again, for
we will not let Thee come to us again. That deception will our suffering, for we
shall be forced to lie. [not in Fr. S s notes:] This is the significance of the first
question in the wilderness, and this is what Thou hast rejected for the sake of that
freedom which Thou hast exalted above everything. Yet in this question lies hid the
great secret of this world. [Fr. S s notes continue:] Choosing bread, Thou wouldst
have satisfied the universal and everlasting craving of humanity -- to find someone
to worship. So long as man remains free he strives for nothing so incessantly and
so painfully as to find someone to worship. But man seeks to worship what is
established beyond dispute, so that all men would agree at once to worship it. [not
in Fr. S s notes:] For these pitiful creatures are concerned not only to find what one
169

or the other can worship, but to find something that all would believe in and
worship; what is essential is that all may be together in it. This craving for
community of worship is the chief misery of every man individually and of all
humanity from the beginning of time. For the sake of common worship they ve
slain each other with the sword. They have set up gods and challenged one another,
Put away your gods and come and worship ours, or we will kill you and your gods!
And so it will be to the end of the world, even when gods disappear from the earth;
they will fall down before idols just the same. Thou didst know, Thou couldst not
but have known, this fundamental secret of human nature, but [Fr. S s notes
continue:] Thou didst reject the one infallible banner which was offered Thee to
make all men bow down to Thee alone -- the banner of earthly bread; and Thou
hast rejected it for the sake of the freedom and the bread of Heaven. [not in Fr. S s
notes:] Behold what Thou didst further. And all again in the name of freedom! I tell
Thee that man is tormented by no greater anxiety than to find someone quickly to
whom he can hand over that gift of freedom with which the ill-fated creature is
born. But [Fr. S s notes continue:] only one who can appease their conscience can
take over their freedom. [not in Fr. S s notes:] In bread there was offered Thee an
invincible banner; [Fr. S s notes continue:]
give bread, and man will worship thee, for nothing is more certain than bread. But
if someone else gains possession of his conscience -- oh! then he will cast away
Thy bread and follow after him who has ensnared his conscience. In that Thou
wast right. For the secret of man s being is not only to live but to have something
to live for. Without a stable conception of the object of life, man would not consent
to go on living, and would rather destroy himself than remain on earth, though he
had bread in abundance. [not in Fr. S s notes:] That is true. But what happened?
Instead of taking men s freedom from them, Thou didst make it greater than ever!
Didst Thou forget that man prefers peace, and even death, to freedom of choice in
the knowledge of good and evil? Nothing is more seductive for man than his
freedom of conscience, but nothing is a greater cause of suffering. And behold,
instead of giving a firm foundation for setting the conscience of man at rest for
ever, Thou didst choose all that is exceptional, vague and enigmatic; [Fr. S s notes
continue:] Thou didst choose what was utterly beyond the strength of men, acting
as though Thou didst not love them at all [not in Fr. S s notes:] - - Thou who didst
come to give Thy life for them! Instead of taking possession of men s freedom,
Thou didst increase it, and burdened the spiritual kingdom of mankind with its
sufferings for ever. [Fr. S s notes continue:] Thou didst desire man s free love, that
he should follow Thee freely, enticed and taken captive by Thee. In place of the
rigid ancient law, man must hereafter with free heart decide for himself what is
good and what is evil, having only Thy image before him as his guide. [not in Fr. S
s notes:] But didst Thou not know he would at last reject even Thy image and Thy
truth, if he is weighed down with the fearful burden of free choice? They will cry
aloud at last that the truth is not in Thee, for they could not have been left in
greater confusion and suffering than Thou hast caused, laying upon them so many
cares and unanswerable problems.
So that, in truth, Thou didst Thyself lay the foundation for the destruction of
170

Thy kingdom, and no one is more to blame for it. Yet what was offered Thee? [Fr.
S s notes continue:] There are three powers, three powers alone, able to conquer
and to hold captive for ever the conscience of these impotent rebels for their
happiness -- those forces are miracle, mystery and authority. [not in Fr. S s notes:]
Thou hast rejected all three and hast set the example for doing so. When the wise
and dread spirit set Thee on the pinnacle of the temple and said to Thee, If Thou
wouldst know whether Thou art [end of p. 264, but Fr. S s Anarchism notes
continue:] Man seeks not so much God as the miraculous. And as man cannot bear
to be without the miraculous, he will create new miracles of his own for himself,
and will worship deeds of sorcery and witchcraft, though he might be a hundred
times a rebel, heretic and infidel.... Thou wouldst not enslave man by a miracle,
and didst crave faith given freely, not based on miracle.... Man is weaker and baser
by nature than Thou hast believed him!... By showing him so much respect, Thou
didst, as it were, cease to feel for him, for Thou didst ask far too much from him -Thou who hast loved him more than Thyself! Respecting him less, Thou wouldst
have asked less of him. That would have been more like love, for his burden would
have been lighter.... Canst Thou have simply come to the elect and for the elect?
But if so, it is a mystery and we cannot understand it.... We have corrected Thy
work and have founded it upon miracle, mystery and authority.... Did we not love
mankind, so meekly acknowledging their feebleness, lovingly lightening their
burden, and permitting their weak nature even sin with our sanction? ...we took
from him what Thou didst reject in scorn, that last gift he offered Thee, showing
Thee all the kingdoms of the earth. We took from him Rome and the sword of
Caesar, and proclaimed ourselves sole rulers of the earth,... but we shall triumph
and shall be Caesars, and then we shall plan the universal happiness of man.... all
that man seeks on earth -- that is, someone to worship, someone to keep his
conscience, and some means of uniting all in one unanimous ant-heap, for the
craving for universal unity is the third and last anguish of men. Mankind as a
whole has always striven to organize a universal state.... Oh, the ages are yet to
come of the confusion of free thought, of their science and cannibalism. For having
begun to build their tower of Babel without us, they will end, of course, with
cannibalism. But then the beast will crawl to us and lick our feet.... And we shall sit
upon the beast and raise the cup, and on it will be written, Mystery. But then, and
only then, the reign of peace and happiness will come for men. Thou art proud of
Thine elect, while we give rest to all. And besides, how many of those elect, those
mighty ones who could become elect, have grown weary waiting for Thee, and
have transferred and will transfer the powers of their spirit and the warmth of their
heart to the other camp, and end by raising their free banner against Thee....
Freedom, free thought, and science will lead them into such straights and will bring
them face to face with such marvels and insoluble mysteries, that some of them,
the fierce and rebellious, will destroy themselves, others, rebellious but weak, will
destroy one another, while the rest, weak and unhappy, will crawl fawning to our
feet and whine to us: Yes, you were right, you alone possess His mystery, and we
come back to you, save us from ourselves!
...And all will be happy, all the millions of creatures except the hundred
171

thousand who rule over them. For only we, we who guard the mystery, shall be
unhappy.... Peacefully they will die, peacefully they will expire in Thy name, and
beyond the grave they will find nothing but death. But we shall keep the secret,
and for their happiness we shall allure them with the reward of heaven and
eternity.
[The Grand Inquisitor will] lead men consciously to death and destruction,
and yet deceive them all the way so that they may not notice where they are being
led, that the poor blind creatures may at least on the way think themselves happy.
xciii

[Continued from Nietzsche lecture tape:] The Grand


Inquisitor says, how can you love humanity? Its just awful, or, loathsome kind
of creature, this fallen creature? You can take care of them and give them
everything they need, but how can you love them? And Christ is the one who
loves humanity.

Lecture 9
REVOLUTION IX
A. Introduction
1. Second half of the 19th century: realism replaces romanticism,
172

scientific replaces utopian socialism, idea of class warfare is


pushed by propagandists like Marx, growing industrialism with
factory conditions adds to unrest and disturbances. Revolution
stops dreaming and calls for action.
2. Here we will see the most radical revolutionary philosophies -but no one of these will entirely reveal to us the theology of the
Revolution -- we must put them all together and apply the
standard of Orthodox Christianity.
3. Activity of the devil becomes ever more evident, and his name
now begins to be invoked. Ivan
Karamazovxciv
B. Revolution of 1848
1. Produced little results in itself but raised Red Spectre. Marx s
Communist Manifesto came out in Jan. 1848 just before the
Revolutions. Revolution started in France February 22 when
banquet and demonstrations of reformers prohibited in a few
hours the king fled. Social reformers met to plan the Republic
then, Webster 136-7-8-9.
Thus in the space of a few hours the monarchy was swept away and the
Social Democratic Republic was proclaimed.
But now the men who had brought about the crisis were faced with the work
of reconstruction -- a very different matter. For it is one thing to sit at one s desk
peaceably writing about the beauties of revolution, it is quite another to find
oneself in the midst of a tumultuous city where all the springs of law and order
have been broken; it is one thing to talk romantically about the sovereignty of the
people, it is less soothing to one s vanity to be confronted with working-men of
real flesh and blood insolently demanding the fulfilment of the promises one has
made them. This was the experience that fell to the lot of the men composing the
Provisional Government the day after the King s abdication. All advocates of
socia1 revolution, they now for the first time saw revolution face to face -- and
liked it less well than on paper.
The hoisting of the red flag by the populace -- described by Lamartine as
the symbol of threats and disorders -- had struck terror into the hearts of all except
Louis Blanc, and it was not until Lamartine in an impassioned speech had besought
the angry multitude to restore the tricouleur that the red flag was finally lowered
and the deputies were able to retire to the Hotel de Ville and discuss the new
scheme of government.
In all the history of the Labour Movement no more dramatic scene has
ever been enacted than that which now took place. Seated around the council table
were the men who for the last ten years had fired the people with enthusiasm for
173

the principles of the first Revolution -- Lamartine, panegyrist of the Gironde,


Louis Blanc the Robespierriste, Ledru Rollin, whose chief source of pride was his
supposed resemblance to Danton.
Suddenly the door of the council chamber burst open and a working-man
entered, gun in hand, his face convulsed with rage, followed by several of his
comrades. Advancing towards the table where sat the trembling demagogues,
Marche, for this was the name of the leader of the deputation, struck the floor with
the butt end of his gun and said loudly: Citizens, it is twenty-four hours since the
revolution was made; the people await the results. They send me to tell you that
they will brook no more delays. They wish for the right to work -- the right to
work at once.
Twenty-four hours since the revolution had been made, and the New
Heavens and the New Earth had not yet been created! The theorists had calculated
without the immense impatience of the People, they had forgotten that to simple
practical minds to give is to give quickly and at once; that the immense social
changes represented by Louis Blanc in his Organisation du travail as quite a
simple matter had been accepted by the workers in the same unquestioning spirit;
of the enormous difficulties incidental to the readjustment of the conditions of the
labor, of the time it must take to reconstruct the whole social system, Marche and
his companions could have no conception. They had been promised the right to
work, and the gigantic organization that brief formula entailed was to be
accomplished in one day and instantly put into operation.
Louis Blanc admits that his first emotion on hearing the tirade of Marche
was that of anger; it were better if he had said of shame. It was he more than any
other who had shown the workers the land of promise, and now that it had proved
a mirage he, more than any other, was to blame. Before promising one must know
how to perform and to perform without delay.
It was apparently Lamartine whom the working-men regarded as the chief
obstacle to their demand for the right to work, for throughout his speech Marche
had fixed his eyes, blazing with audacity, on those of the poet of the Gironde.
Lamartine, outraged by this attitude, thereupon replied in an imperious tone that
were he threatened by a thousand deaths, were he led by Marche and his
companions before the loaded cannons down beneath the windows, he would
never sign a decree of which he did not understand the meaning. But finally
conquering his irritation, he adopted a more conciliatory tone, and placing his hand
on the arm of the angry workman he besought him to have patience, pointing out
that legitimate as his demand might be, so great a measure as the organization of
labor must take time to elaborate, that in the face of so many crying needs the
government must be given time to formulate its schemes, that all competent men
must be consulted....
The eloquence of the poet triumphed, gradually Marche s indignation died
down; the workmen, honest men touched by the evident sincerity of the speaker,
looked into each other s eyes questioningly, with an expression of relenting, and
Marche, interpreting their attitude, cried out, Well, then, yes, we will wait. We
will have confidence in our government. The people will wait; they place three
174

months of misery at the service of the Republic!


Have more pathetic words ever been uttered in the whole history of social
revolution? Like their forefathers of 1792 these men were ready to suffer, to
sacrifice themselves for the new-formed Republic represented to them as the one
hope of salvation for France, and animated by this noble enthusiasm they were
willing to trust the political charlatans who had led them on with fair promises into
abortive insurrection. Even whilst Lamartine was urging patience, Louis Blanc,
still intent on his untried theories, had retired into the embrasure of a window,
where, with Flocon and Ledru Rollin, he drew up the decree, founded on the 10th
article of Robespierre s Declaration of the Rights of Man, by which the
Provisional Government undertook to guarantee work to all citizens. Louis Blanc
was probably the only man present who believed in the possibility of carrying out
this promise, yet all ended by subscribing to it, and the same day the decree was
publicly proclaimed throughout Paris.
Two days later the National Workshops, which were to provide the
promised employment, were opened under the direction of Emile Thomas and of
M. Marie. The result was inevitably disastrous, necessary work being insufficient,
the workmen were sent hither and thither from one employer to another, useless
jobs were devised that necessarily proved discouraging to the men engaged on
them, whilst the workers in the skilled trades for whom no employment could be
found had to be maintained on an unemployment dole. This last measure, the
most demoralizing of all, had the effect of attracting thousands of workers from all
over the country, and even from abroad, into the capital. xcv
Workers were idealistic Webster 141-2.
The working-men on their part showed themselves in the main perfectly
sane and reasonable, demanding protection from the exploitation of middle-men,
and a reduction in the hours of labor to ten or eleven a day, giving for their reason
a theory tenable perhaps at a period when working days consisted of fourteen or
fifteen hours, but which today has been perverted into the disastrous system known
as Ca Canny, namely that the longer the day is the fewer workers are employed,
and that the workers who are occupied absorb a salary which might be divided
amongst a greater number of workers. They also criticized excessive work as an
obstacle to their education and the intellectual development of the people.
At any rate, whether sound or not in their political economy, the people of
Paris at this crisis showed themselves in no way prone to violence; the people did
not wish for bloodshed and for barricades, for burnings and destruction. Reduced
to its simplest expression, they asked for two things only -- bread and work: what
juster demand could have been formulated? And they were ready, as Marche had
said, to wait, to suffer, to sacrifice themselves not only for their own ultimate
welfare but for the glory of France. Misled as they had been by visionaries,
illusioned as they were on the benefits of the first French Revolution, they asked
for no repetition of its horrors but only to be allowed to work in peace and
175

fraternity.
Citizens,... wrote the cloth printers to the Provisional Government at the
end of March 1848, we, workers ourselves, printers on stuff, we offer you our
feeble co-operation, we bring you 2000 francs to help towards the success of your
noble creation.... Let them be reassured those who may believe in a return to the
bloody scenes enacted in our history! Let them be reassured! Neither civil war, nor
war abroad shall rend the entrails of our beautiful France! Let them be reassured
on our National Assembly, for there will be neither Montagnards nor Girondins!
Yes, let them be reassured and let them help to give to Europe a magic sight, let
them show the universe that in France there has been no violence in the revolution,
that there has only been a change of system, that honor has succeeded to
corruption, the sovereignty of the people and of equity to odious despotism, force
and order to weakness, union to castes, to tyranny this sublime device: Liberty,
Equality, Fraternity, progress, civilization, happiness for all and all for happiness!
xcvi

But the government began to push utopian reforms and people in Paris
and Provinces began to fear the workers as revolutionaries. Louis Blanc
proclaimed the goal of absolute domination of the proletariat. Then a
demonstration in favor of Poland led to scene (Webster 150-2)
...[T]he revolutionaries..., now legally excluded from the government, were
obliged to cast about for a further pretext to stir up the people. This was provided
by a revolt in Poland which the Prussian troops had ruthlessly suppressed on the
5th of May, and the working-men of Paris were summoned to assemble in their
thousands as a protest against this display of arbitrary authority. Accordingly, on
the 13th as procession of 5000 to 6000 people...marched to the Place de la
Concorde, shouting: Vive la Pologne! The working-men in the crowd, who had
started out in all good faith to agitate, as that had been told to do, in favor of
oppressed Poland, were animated by no revolutionary intentions and never dreamt
of overthrowing the Assembly elected by universal suffrage. But, as usual, agents
of disorder had mingled in their ranks, strangers of sinister appearance ready to
side either with police or mob in order to provoke a riot, well-dressed women not
of the people were observed inciting the crowd to violence.
At the bridge of the Concorde the procession seemed to hesitate, but
Blanqui, now placing himself at its head, cried loudly, Forward! and the whole
mass surged towards the palace occupied by the Assembly. The small number of
National Guards assembled proved powerless to stem the oncoming tide of
150,000 men and women, which pressed onwards with such force that a number of
people were crushed to death at the entrance of the Palace.
It was then that Lamartine, braver than his predecessors the revolutionaries
of 1792, came forward out of the Assembly and faced the people.
Citizen Lamartine, said one of the leaders, Laviron, we have come to read
a petition to the Assembly in favor of Poland....
You shall not pass, Lamartine answered imperiously.
By what right will you prevent us from passing? We are the people. Too
176

long have you made fine phrases; the people want something besides phrases,
they wish to go themselves to the Assembly and signify their wishes.
How true was the word uttered by a voice in the crowd at this juncture:
Unhappy ones, what are you doing? You are throwing back the cause of liberty for
more than a century!
In vain the men who had raised the storm now tried to quell it. Whilst the
crowd pressed onwards into the hall of the Assembly, Thomas, Raspail, Barbes,
Ledru Rollin, Buchez, Louis Blanc struggled amidst the suffocating heat of the
May day and the odor of massed humanity to make their voices heard. Louis Blanc
at the table declared that the people by their cries had violated their own
sovereignty ; the crowd responded with shouts of: Vive la Pologne! Vive l
organisation du travail! Louis Blanc, attacked with the weapon he himself had
forged, was reduced to impotence; it was no longer the theorist who had deluded
them with words that the people demanded, but Blanqui, the man of action, the
instigator of violence and fury. Blanqui! Where is Blanqui? We want Blanqui!
was the cry of the multitude. And instantly, borne on the shoulders of the crowd,
the strange figure of the famous agitator appeared -- a little man prematurely bent,
with wild eyes darting flame from hollows deep sunk in the sickly pallor of his
face, with black hair shaved close like a monk s, his black coat buttoned up to meet
his black tie, his hands encased in black gloves -- and at this sinister vision a
silence fell upon the crowd. Blanqui, suiting himself to the temper of his audience,
thereupon delivered a harangue demanding that France should immediately declare
war on Europe for the deliverance of Poland -- truly a strange measure for the
relief of public misery in Paris! Meanwhile Louis Blanc, with a Polish flag thrust
into his hands, was making a valiant effort to recover his popularity. An eloquent
discourse on the sovereignty of the people had at last the desired effect, and
amidst cries of Long live Louis Blanc! Long live the social and democratic
Republic! he too was hoisted on to the shoulders of the people and carried in
triumph. But the emotion of the moment proved too great for the frail body; Louis
Blanc, his face streaming with perspiration, attempted in vain to address the crowd,
but no sound came from his lips and, finally lowered to earth, he fell fainting on a
seat.
The dementia of the crowd, urged on by the Clubistes, now reached its
height. Whilst Barbs vainly attempted to deliver a speech the tribune was
assailed by a group of maniacs, who with clenched fists threatened each other and
drowned his voice in tumultuous cries. To add to the confusion the galleries began
to break down under the weight of the increasing crowd and a bursting water-tank
flooded the corridor.
At this juncture Huber, who had likewise fallen into a long swoon, suddenly
recovered consciousness, and, mounting the tribune, declared in a voice of thunder
that the Assembly was dissolved in the name of the people.
At the same moment Buchez was flung out of his seat, Louis Blanc was
driven by the crowd out on to the esplanade of the Invalides, Raspail fainted on
the lawn, Sobrier was carried in triumph by the workmen, and Huber disappeared.
Then followed the inevitable reaction. The troops arrived on the scene and
177

dispersed the crowd, Barbs was arrested. Louis Blanc, with tumbled hair and
torn clothes, succeeded in escaping from the National Guards and took refuge in
the Assembly, only to find himself assailed with cries of indignation.
You always talk of yourself! You have no heart!
Whilst these extraordinary scenes had been taking place at the Assembly
another crowd of 200 people had invaded the Prefecture of Police, where
Caussidire, following the example of Ption on the 10th of August, remained
discreetly waiting to see which way the tide turned before deciding on the course
he should take. Faced by an angry mob of insurgents the wretched Caussidire,
hitherto in the vanguard of revolution, now began to talk of constitutional
authority and threatened to run a rebel through the body with his sabre.
With the aid of the Republican Guard the Prefecture of Police was finally
evacuated, and throughout Paris the troops set about restoring order. The
repression, writes the Comtesse d'Agoult, is without pity because the attack has
been terrible - - words ever to be remembered by the makers of revolution. The
fiercer the onslaught the fiercer must be the resistance, and anarchy can only end
in despotism. Even the revolutionary leaders are obliged to admit the reactionary
effects of May the 15th, and the people themselves, always impressed by a display
of authority, sided with the victors. When on the 16th of May the arrested
conspirators leave for Vincennes they hear, on going through the Faubourg St.
Antoine, the imprecations of the crowd of men, women, and children who, in spite
of the extreme heat of the day, follow the carriages with insults in their mouths as
far as the first houses of Vincennes.
But this revulsion of popular feeling was only momentary; before long the
Socialists had re-established their ascendancy over the people. In the by-elections
on June the 5th
Pierre Leroux, Proudhon, and Caussidire were all successful, and the situation
was further complicated by the election of Louis
Napolon Bonaparte.
It was now that the Imperialist schemes of the Bonapartistes first became
apparent, and that the cry of Vive l Empereur! was first heard. The leaders of this
faction, no less than those of the Socialists, realized that the overthrow of the
existing government must be brought about by a popular insurrection, and the
usual weapon of class hatred was employed by both with equal unsrupulousness.
xcvii

When elections held -- the majority in Assembly was monarchist! Three


days in June, all the parties were in the streets, and National Guards mowed
them all down Then followed the three fearful days of June the 22nd to the 25th.
Barricades were once more erected in the streets, and war to the knife was
declared on the Republic. As in every outbreak of the World Revolution, the
insurgents were composed of warring elements, all resolved to destroy the existing
order and all animated by opposing aims. Thus, ...the crowds that took part in the
178

insurrection included, besides the workmen driven by hunger and despair to revolt,
a number of honest and credulous people duped by the agitators -- Communists,
dreamers of a Utopia amongst which each has his system and disagreeing with
each other; Legitimists, demanding the restoration of the Bourbon dynasty in the
person of the Duc de Chambord; Bonapartistes, partisans of a regency; and finally,
the scum of all parties, convicts and wastrels; in a word, the enemies of all society,
men vowed by instinct to ideas of insurrection, theft, and pillage.
Against this terrible army the troops,...reinforced by National Guards from
all over France, displayed the greatest vigor, and on the 26th of June, after terrible
fighting which left no less than 10,000... xcviii
10,000 killed in Paris. Revolution spread to Germany, Austria, Italy,
England, Spain -- but repressed everywhere. Then comes Marx and organized
Party of Revolution to make a successful revolution.
[Transcript of lost tape begins:]
...thousand killed in Paris. From there the Revolution spread to Germany,
Austria, Italy, England, Spain. There were demonstrations in many places, but
almost everywhere it was repressed quite quickly; and it was the fact of the
failure of this revolution that inspired Marx. Marx decided now it is time to plan
very carefully for a successful revolution in the future and not just have high
ideals and make demonstrations.
In France itself Napoleon quickly took power and ran an election;
everybody, all the men in France voted and there were seven million votes to 700
thousand to make him Emperor, which showed what the people believed when they
got a chance to elect.
And somebody asked, Why did you elect Napoleon, what does he have? Can I
have been with Napoleon in Russia and not vote for [the descendant of?]
Napoleon?xcix
Marx and Engels
So now we come to the people, the socialists, the anarchists of the late
nineteenth century who prepared the history of the twentieth century.
The first one we will describe briefly is Marx who together with Engels are the
ones who laid the foundation for Marxism in Russia. Engels himself was a factory
owner and spent his time in England; he owned a factory in Manchester. Marx was
a Jewish journalist who apparently didnt do a lick of work in his life, was
constantly inspired by revolutionary ideas and thinking about how to make
revolution come about. In 1844 the two of them met in Paris in 1847; they joined
the Communist League, a small secret group of revolutionaries something like the
Quintets we read about in Dostoyevsky. According to Engels this little group
was actually not much more than the German branch of the French secret societies.
This group tried to infiltrate other groups, produced propaganda and worked on the
question of evolving a successful system particularly with guns.
In 1848 just before revolution broke out Marx published his Communist
179

Manifesto telling all the workmen of the world to unite,c [and] throw off your
chains. In the course of his life, he was never particularly concerned with the
workmen -- the workmen were always much more conservative. He was only
interested in using this group to make them dissatisfied and then to use this
dissatisfaction in order to bring about a new government, which would put into
effect his principles.
His principles he got from several sources. Of course, the chief one is the
French Revolution and the idealistic socialists -- only later he was so much against
[these] because they were not scientific -- but his millennarian ideas come straight
from them. Then the ideas of the British economists of his time, most of which the
British economists later on revised because they were unrealistic; but he took the
earlier ones which were later abandoned. Another was German idealistic
philosophy, especially Hegel with his idea of the march of God through history,
only he took away the God. In fact, they said they found Hegel on his head and
they turned him right side up by taking away God; and they made his system of
dialectics into a dialectical materialism, that is, explaining everything that happens
in the world as the basis of a sort of providence which acts throughout history
only without God: some kind of causes which cannot be reversed. That gives
Communists their confidence that they are on the side of history, because, simply,
things must go that way, thats the way the world works.
These ideas were atheistic, materialistic, extremely naive: science is the
answer to everything. The philosophy itself is extremely stupid and there is
nothing much worth believing, but his [Marxs] power comes from his passion to
overthrow the existing order. And he used as his scapegoat the bourgeoisie, the
middle class, whom he saw were making the workers their slaves.
Now revolution enters a new phase: before, it was the bourgeoisie who
wanted to overthrow the aristocracy and the monarchy; and now its the lower
classes, supposedly, who want to overthrow the bourgeoisie. He worked to develop
the class consciousness so that the workers would hate the bourgeoisie and vice
versa; and to a large extent he succeeded, because the very violent scenes of the
revolution followed, because these two groups began to distrust each other.
In 1864 a group of labor organizations met in London to form what was
called the First International, and Marx took over the leadership and used this to
publish his own ideas. Anyone who disagreed with him he fanatically opposed,
and he was against everyone including most of the workers because they did not
agree with his philosophy. He gradually managed to throw out of this International
everyone who was against his ideas. He also hated the peasants. The proletariat he
hated; he called them
lumpen proletariat, the ragged proletariat. He had not love at all for anyone.
From that time on, especially in the 80s and 90s the various Socialist parties
began to organize themselves and develop, and thats when the Russian
Communist Party was formed.
Bakunin
180

The second of these thinkers is [Mikhail] Bakunin. Marx lived 1818-1883,


Engels 1820-1885, and Engels chief function was to support Marx and to agree
with his ideas and so forth. Marx was a great intellect. Bakunin is a different sort of
thinker. He lived 1814-1876. He came from Russian nobility, was quite intelligent,
extremely lazy, spent his days in bed, went to military school for awhile but didnt
succeed because he was so lazy. He dabbled in philosophy and became a
professional revolutionary. He was constantly borrowing money to go from one
town to the next to start a revolution. He became friends with Marx in one of his
travels abroad and Marx immediately saw that he had great revolutionary energy
because he was very fired up with hatred for the old order, and therefore he tried to
use him for his own purposes. He clearly recognized the value of the Russian as a
huge dynamic force to be made use of and then cast aside when it had served his
purpose.ci The one thing to understand is that the power of Marxism lies in hatred,
and when Lenin came to power he used complete ruthlessness, no pity, absolutely
kill, destroy, have no pity on anybody, no mercy.
There is a description here on how Bakunin when he was still young,
twenty-nine years old, and met Marx in 1844 in Paris. Marx and I are old
acquaintances. I met him for the first time in Paris in 1844.... We were rather good
friends. He was rather much more advanced than I was, as today he still is, in
revolutionary ideas, not more advanced but incomparably more learned than I
am. Marx had studied all these philosophers and systems, but Bakunin was just
spontaneous. I knew nothing then
of political economy, I had not yet got rid of metaphysical abstractions, and my
Socialism was only that of instinct. He, though younger than I, was already an
atheist, a learned materialist, and a thoughtful Socialist. It was precisely at this
epoch that he elaborated his first foundations of his present system. We saw each
other fairly often, for I respected him very much for his knowledge and his
devotion, passionate and serious though always mingled with personal vanity, to
the cause of the proletariat, and I eagerly sought his conversation, which was
always instructive and witty when it was not inspired by petty hatred, which, alas!
occurred too frequently. There was never, however, any frank intimacy between
us. Our temperaments did not permit it. He called me a sentimental idealist, and he
was right; I called him a vain man, perfidious and crafty, and I was right also.cii
In 1848 the revolution broke out in France, and Bakunin wanted to take part
in it. One of his French fellow socialists said about him: What a man! The first
day of a revolution he is a treasure; the second he is only good to shoot.ciii
He did not care about the ideas of the revolution; he cared only about the
energy, the demonic powers which were unleashed. We have a description of how
he behaved in the revolution of 1870. First we will quote from that concerning the
Revolution of 1848. When he was first in Paris during the Revolution of 1848, he
was then sent with a mission to stir up revolution in the Eastern countries. He went
to part of western Russia, then was in Prague, then in Dresden where he was
finally arrested and was sent by the German-Austrian authorities to Russia. He was
placed in the fortress of Saints Peter and Paul and Count Orloff came to visit him
181

and urged him to write a confession of his misdeeds for the Emperor as to a fatherconfessor. Bakunin complied and Nicholas I read it and said: He is a brave boy
with a lively wit, but he is a dangerous man and must be kept under lock and
key.civ This was quite realistic. However, he escaped to London and, after the new
emperor Alexander II read his confession and saw that he had no repentance, he
was sent to Siberia and then he escaped, across Asia and America to London. From
then on, that was where he spent most of his time -- in London, Italy, and Western
Europe.
He founded various secret societies and has as his disciple a certain
Nechayev, a young man who was one of the most ruthless nihilists that this time
knew. Bakunin had this revolutionary fever and in these 60s he was surrounded by
conspirators of all nationalities, was constantly working of fresh plots, stirring up
revolutions everywhere, trying to stir up the Poles to rebel. And Herzen the liberal
describes him this way when he saw him in London: Bakunin renewed his youth;
he was in his element. It is not only the rumbling of insurrection, the noise of the
clubs, the tumult of the streets and public places, nor even the barricades that made
up his happiness; he loved also the movement of the day before, the work of
preparation, the life of agitation, yet at the same time rendered continuous by
conferences, those sleepless nights, those parleyings and negotiations,
rectifications, chemical ink, ciphers, and signs agreed upon before hand. And
Herzen, who took revolution more seriously, adds that Bakunin excited himself
exactly as if it were a question of preparing a Christmas tree....cv That is, he is not
terribly serious but he has this revolutionary ardor which is very useful to people
who want to overthrow governments.
Nechayev, this young anarchist, was at first a disciple of Bakunin. And then
Bakunin began to see that he was rather more revolutionary than he had suspected.
He helped Bakunin to write what is called the Revolutionary Catechism which
says, among other things: The revolutionary must let nothing stand between him
and the work of destruction.... For him there exists only one single pleasure, one
single consolation, one reward, one satisfaction -- the success of the revolution.
Night and day he must have but one thought, but one aim -- implacable
destruction.... If he continues to live in this world it is only in
order to annihilate it all the more surely.cvi But about 1870 Bakunin discovered
that Nechayev, while pretending to be his most devoted disciple, had all the while
been a member of another society still more secret and of which he had never
divulged the inner mysteries to Bakunin. Bakunin wrote to a friend: Nechayev...is
a devoted fanatic, but at the same time a very dangerous fanatic, and one with
whom an alliance could only be disastrous to every one. This is why: He was first a
member of an occult committee which really had existed in Russia. This committee
no longer exists; all its members have been arrested. Nechayev alone remains, and
alone he constitutes what he calls the committee. The Russian organization having
been destroyed, he is trying to create a new one abroad. All this would be perfectly
natural, legitimate, and very useful, but the way he goes to work is detestable.
Keenly impressed by the catastrophe which has just destroyed the secret
organization in Russia, he has gradually arrived at the conclusion that in order to
182

found a serious and indestructible society one must take as a basis the policy of
Machiavelli, and adopt in full the system of the Jesuits -- bodily violence and a
lying soul.
Truth, mutual confidence, serious and severe solidarity exist only among
about ten individuals who form the sanctum sanctorum of the society. All the rest
must serve as a blind instrument and as matter to be exploited by the hands of
these ten men really solidarized. It is permitted, and even ordered, that one should
deceive them, compromise them, steal from them, and even if needs be ruin them
-- they are conspiracy-fodder....
In the name of the cause he must get hold of your whole person without
your knowing it. In order to do this he will spy on you and try to get hold of your
secrets, and for that purpose, in your absence, left alone in your room he will open
all your drawers, read all your correspondence, and when a letter seems interesting
to him, that is to say, compromising from any point of view for you or for one of
your friends, he will seal it and keep it carefully as a document against you or
against your friend.... When convicted of this in a general assembly he dared to say
to us: Well, yes, it is our system. We consider as enemies, whom it is our duty to
deceive and compromise, all those who are not completely with us.... If you have
introduced him to a friend, his first thought will be to raise discord, gossip and
intrigue between you -- in a word, to make you quarrel. Your friend has a wife, a
daughter, he will try to seduce her, to give her a child, in order to drag her away
from official morality and to throw her into an attitude of forced revolutionary
protest against society. All personal ties, all friendship are considered by them as
an evil which it is their duty to destroy, because all this constitutes a force which,
being outside the secret organization, diminishes the unique force of the latter. Do
not cry out that I am exaggerating; all this has been amply developed and proved
by me.cvii
Bakunin himself, however, is no one to be criticizing him because his own
philosophy is very similar; it is just that he was not quite so thorough as this
Nechayev. He wrote in his Revolutionary Catechism: Our task is terrible, total,
inexorable and universal destruction.cviii Again he says: Let us put our trust in the
eternal spirit which destroys and annihilates only because it is the unsearchable and
eternally creative source of all life. The passion for destruction is also a creative
passion.cix
And once when he was asked what he would do if the revolution was
successful and the new order of his dreams came into being, he said, Then I
should at once begin to pull down
again everything I had made.cx In him we see a primordial human will to destroy
and to rebel. This is the passion for rebellion which we see even in recent writers
like Camus, the existentialist who says that the only thing that proves that I exist
is the fact that I have a will to rebel.
Bakunin, when he was praising the Proletariat in 1871, afterwards named
the Commune in Paris, he called it the modern Satan, the author of the sublime
insurrection of the
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Commune.cxi Again, discussing the loss of the revolution in 1871 he says: The
cause is lost.... It seems that the French, working class itself, are not much moved
by this state of things. Yet how terrible the lesson is! But it is not enough. They
must have greater calamities, ruder shocks. Everything makes one foresee that
neither one nor the other will be wanting. And then perhaps the demon will awake.
But as long as it slumbers we can do nothing. It would really be a pity to have to
pay for the broken glasses.... Our task is to do the preparatory work, to organize
and spread out so as to hold ourselves in readiness when the demon shall
have awoken.cxii
This desire for rebellion, we must understand, is a very deep part of this
whole revolutionary movement, not just some accidental part. The revolution is not
caused by idle dreamers who just want to blunder their way into a better order of
things or to revise the government, the deepest motive for rebellion as we see
clearly in these radical thinkers of the last part of the nineteenth century, is really
the idea that everything must be destroyed. And they didnt much think about what
was to happen after that. They have this satanic inspiration to destroy.
We see later in art, in 1914, a movement broke out called Dada which is
considered very formative for later artists. These artists would glue bits of
newspaper advertisements into collages or arrange copies of Old Masters upsidedown -- just to look bizarre. But there is a meaning behind all this. The philosophy
of the art of Dada is summed up in one of their manifestos: Let everything be
swept away; no more of anything. Nothing.
Nothing. Nothing.cxiii This is what is called Nihilism, the desire to sweep away
God, government, morality, art, culture, civilization -- everything, which is what is
set forth in the philosophy set forth by Weishaupt and the Illuminati: the complete
overthrowing of civilization. What comes after that as we shall see is something
else.
But all this is still philosophy. We must look at how this was put into effect.
In fact, if we could not see in the last hundred years how this is put into effect, we
would not understand what this philosophy is. We would still think it was an
isolated incident of some crazy people. But beginning, especially in 1871, this
philosophy began to be put into practice.
When the Napoleonic Empire, the Third Empire was overthrown after the
disastrous loss to the Prussians in 1870, the revolution again broke out in France. It
broke out first in the provinces. And Bakunin who was in Italy ran as fast as he
could to Lyons in the south in order to take part. He and his disciples were the
chief ones who were doing this. He borrowed some money, of course, to get there
and put himself in the civic center where the new revolutionary government was
entrenched and nobody had any clear idea of what they wanted to do. There were
public meetings of extraordinary violence taking place in which the most bloody
motions were put forward and received with enthusiasm.
And this, of course, was what Bakunin loved. On the 28th of September, the day
of his arrival, the people had seized the Hotel de Ville, the civic center. Bakunin
installed himself there; then the critical moment arrived, the moment awaited for so
many years, when Bakunin was able to accomplish the most revolutionary act the
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world has ever seen. He decreed the abolition of the State. But the state, in the
shape and kind of two companies of bourgeois National Guards, entered by acxiv
rear door and chased him away. Nevertheless the idea is there to abolish the state.
Then the revolution broke out in Paris and the First International under Marx
tried to dictate the progress of the revolution from London. But they were not able
to do this very well and so the revolution in Paris took its own course which
became more and more violent. The churches were closed and turned into clubs,
priests were arrested and killed with great bloodiness and the institutions of the
first revolution of 1793 were resurrected. The Revolutionary Calendar was
restored, it was proclaimed that this was the year 79 of the new order; the
Committee of Public Safety of the Terror was restored; the cross on top of the
church of the Pantheon was broken and in its place was put the red flag and the
temple was dedicated to the great men of all ages. Then there was an obelisk, a
great pillar 150 feet high comparable in size to the Washington Monument in the
Place Vendome which was originally erected to the memory of Napoleon which
had scenes from his great [triumphs?] was around it and on top a great statue of
Napoleon in a toga. They decided that this was a symbol of the past order and they
were going to tear it down. They thought for a long time how they were going to
do it. Finally they decided they would simply saw it off at the bottom and pull it
over like a tree. It was made of cement and bronze or something and they chipped
away on one side, sawed on the other side and prepared the great day when they
would bring it down and end the old order. They really had no idea of what would
happen, some thought it would cause an earthquake; it weighed thousands of tons.
Others said it might break through the ground all the way into the sewers and
completely ruin the sewers of Paris. But they decided the idea was worth it
anyway. So they put tons and tons of straw to make a soft bed for it and at three
p.m. they all came together, stood on the reviewing stand and ordered the ropes to
be pulled. They pulled them and at first it didnt work; several people were killed
in the process and somebody cried, Treason, treason. They tried again and
finally the whole thing came down and broke into pieces and the statue of
Napoleon was broken. And this was a symbol of their triumph over the old order -a completely senseless king of thing to do but, from their point of view, it was a
symbolical act which shows that they are going to be removed from all influences
of the past. They arrested the Archbishop of Paris; later on he was murdered.
As the revolution went on it became more and more violent. They even tried
to arrest the painter Renoir who was busy sketching some boats on the Seine, and
they said, Aha, spy! And they immediately arrested him and he was going to be
executed immediately because that was the principle: you arrest a spy and
immediately execute him. It so happened that the head of the secret police was an
old friend of his; and he saw he was being arrested and he embraced him and let
him go, otherwise Renoir would never have painted all those paintings so familiar
to us. There were many radical painters as for example, Gustave Courbet who was
one of the leaders of the Commune and it was one of his ideas to take down this
tower because he called it an insult to artistic sense.
When the Republican army invaded Paris -- because at this time there was
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no more monarchy and no more Napoleon -- it was a matter of the Republicans


versus the Communards and there was now terrible violence on both sides; both
were butchering each other with great glee. When the Communards saw that the
revolution was being lost, they were losing street by street in Paris, they decided
that they were going to destroy Paris. So they placed first of all an immense
amount of dynamite and gunpowder in the Tuileries, the palace of the kings where
Napoleon III was. And it blew it up, whereupon they claimed,
The last relics of royalty have just vanished.cxv And then they proceeded to go to
the next one. They blew up the Hotel de Ville, a thirteenth century building where
the civic center was, and they went to blow up Notre Dame Cathedral but
discovered that next door was a hospital for their own people and they decided to
spare it.
And then some wild women such as were taking part in the first revolution
of 1793, began going through the streets with some kind of flammable material
and causing fires. Whole avenues in Paris were burning. At night it looked as
though the whole of Paris was in flames (There is, in fact, a book called Paris
Burning). One must understand that this is not something exceptional but only a
part of that same spirit that Bakunin had,
Let us destroy the old order,cxvi even if they dont know what is going to replace
it. Later on we will see that this spirit did not come to an end in 1871.
The inspiration of the Commune which Marx said was a great deed in the
Red Revolution, in fact, he was the chief apologist for the Commune and said,
This is the standard of what we have to do in the future. People are now being
aroused and this is what we need to cause the revolution.cxvii
From that time on until 1917 the revolution began to take very violent forms
although it was still a matter more or less of hit and miss. The tsar was assassinated
in Russia in 1881; in America, President Garfield was assassinated by a Red
revolutionary; in 1901 McKinley was assassinated again by some kind of
anarchist. In fact, all the assassinations of American presidents were done by either
anarchists or Communists. The President of France was assassinated in 1890? and
there were many attempts on princes in Russia and kings and presidents in the
West. All with no seeming purpose in mind, just the idea of getting rid of the older
order. This is the spirit of which Bakunin was a very strong representative but
which now becomes the inheritance of the whole revolutionary movement: destroy
the old order.
Proudhon
There is one more writer, philosopher, anarchist at this time whom we
should study briefly because he introduces a few ideas which make this
philosophy more comprehensible. This man is [P. J.] Proudhon. He was active in
the middle of the century. He took part in the revolution of 1848. To him belongs
the famous phrase: Property is theft,cxviii which he thought was his chief
contribution to the revolutionary movement, although actually a very similar thing
had been said by Rousseau and by eighteenth-century thinkers.
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He is remarkable for at least three things. First, he proclaimed that the


revolution is not atheistical, but rather anti-theistical. He said, The revolution is
not atheistic in the strict sense of the word.... It does not deny the absolute; it
eliminates it.cxix The first duty of man," he says, on becoming intelligent and
free is to continually hunt the idea of God out of his mind. For God, if He exists,
is essentially hostile to our nature. Every step which we take in advance is a
victory in which we crush the Divinity.cxx God, if there is a God, is the enemy of
humanity.cxxi Bakunin also said something similar: If God really existed, it would
be necessary to abolish Him.cxxii And we see now in Russia after sixty years, the
government is not really atheistic, it is anti-theistic; it fights against God.
2. Invoked Satan. Bakunin said he was on the side of Satan, the
eternal rebel, the first freethinker
and emancipator of worlds. cxxiii Nietszche proclaimed himself Antichrist. And
Proudon: Come to me, Lucifer, satan, whoever you may be! Devil whom the
faith of my fathers contrasted with God and the Church. I will act as
spokesman for you and will demand nothing of you.
Bakunin found himself on the side of Satan, the eternal rebel, the first
freethinker and emancipator of worlds. cxxiv Nietzsche proclaimed himself
Antichrist. Poets, decadents, and the avant-garde in general since the
Romantic era have been greatly fascinated by Satanism, and some have tried
to make it into a religion. Proudhon in so many words actually invoked Satan:
Come to me, Lucifer, Satan, whoever you may be! Devil whom the faith of
my fathers contrasted with God and the Church. I will act as your spokesman
and I will demand nothing of you.cxxv We see here that the revolutionary
movement becomes consciously satanistic.
The third idea of Proudhon which is very remarkable is that in the end he
decided that we should keep Catholicism the way it is, that is, the rites of
Catholicism, only we will give them a new meaning. Under the outward guise of
Catholicism, we will have the revolutionary message, of equality, of satanism, etc.
In this he is, of course, only carrying on the idea of Saint-Simon who called for a
new Christianity, that is, keeping the form of the old Christianity but making it
something new. And today we see very clearly how socialism and Catholicism are
in fact getting closer and closer together. And this profound revolutionary sees that
the idea of Communism, of Socialism, of anarchism, is in some way a religious
idea which takes the place of religion.
By the end of the nineteenth century we see that the revolution movement
has become quite explicitly and openly ruthless and bloody. Already there have
been several examples, especially the Commune of 1871, where the idea of
universal destruction and ruthless murder have already begun to be put into
practice. A person who is very conscious of the currents going on in the world
could already by the end of the nineteenth century have said that the twentieth
century is going to be something frightful because these things which are ideas are
not simply the property of a few crazy people, but are getting into the very blood
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of the European people and are going to produce some terrible effect when it all
filters down to the lowest level, to the common people. In fact Nietszche even said:
When my ideas, the ideas of nihilism penetrate to the last brain of the last person,
then there will be such a storm as the world has never seen.cxxvi
The Protocols of Zion
There is one last document we should look at in this period of the beginning
of the twentieth century before the great revolutionaries of our century, which is a
rather controversial document. It is called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and,
because it presents itself in the form of a Jewish document, it has aroused a great
deal of dispute. If you read any history book, of the two world wars especially; in
fact, any history book written before the Second World War, you will find there an
almost universal statement that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion are a
fabrication deliberately to discredit the Jews, that it is a totally fantastic thing
which has no reality to it, and they will point out that either the person who
discovered it was himself an agent of somebody and therefore deliberately
fabricated them, or else -- as at least one source states -- that he was fooled by the
Tsarist police who simply wanted to invent these in order to make an excuse for
eliminating the Jews in the pogroms. There are others who take the document so
seriously that they tend to go to the other extreme and they see everywhere a
Jewish plot so much so that they can hardly take a step without fainting. We must
try to look at this document somewhat objectively to see what is actually in it, how
it was found and what is its significance.
From the Orthodox point of view, it is most interesting how it was presented
to the world for the first time. It was discovered by a lady, we do not know who,
who gave it to the person who printed it and it is supposed to have come from the
West and to have been written in French and then translated into Russian. But the
person to whom this document was given was a man by the name of Sergei Nilus
who printed it together with another document which he had recently discovered,
The Conversation of Motovilov with St. Seraphim. He presented these two
documents to the world at the same time in order to show 1) what is the truth of
Orthodoxy and the acquirement of the Grace of the Holy Spirit, and 2) what is the
plot of Satan to overthrow Orthodoxy. It was printed in 1905 (1903?)
Nilus himself was a very respected ecclesiastical writer, a popular journalist
who went to Optina and even lived there and various other places; and there can be
no doubt that he had nothing to do with making up a forgery. He accepted this text
as quite legitimate and presented it to the world as a warning. We will see that the
text has two new points in it which have not come out in previous revolutionary
documents. But apart from these, it is exactly the same as the philosophy of
Bakunin, Weishaupt and all these other thinkers. Some people say it is not a very
original document -- its plagiaristic, etc. -- and probably so, because all these ideas
were circulating and this particular document -- in fact, we see that one writer
[Webster] compares on one side of the page The Protocols and on the other side
the text of Weishaupt written in 1785. The philosophy is the same. And so, most
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likely this is a legitimate document which is some kind of notes taken at a lodge of
people who happen to be Jews and they present the philosophy in a very Jewish
way, just as earlier there were people who presented the revolution as a triumph of
pan-Germania and others presented the idea that the whole world would become
some sort of French republic, and this took the form of some Jewish Masons or
Illuminati who represent the revolution as their plot.
There are some ideas here which are most significant for us. Whether they
are actually responsible for the French Revolution as they say, and whether they
are so influential, who can say? We have seen that all these secret societies are so
small, so split up, so secret, so full of secret signs and handshakes and invisible
ink, etc. that who can possibly decipher who is actually responsible for what? Our
view is that this is most symptomatic of the philosophy which is going on at this
time.
And we shall see later on that this particular document had a definite role to
play in Germany. The philosophy which is described in this document is one of
absolute ruthlessness in bringing about a revolutionary government and in the
means used to bring it about, the using of people (like Marx used Bakunin), utter
hypocrisy, killing off your enemies, spreading pornography in order to corrupt the
youth, causing revolutions, taking first the side of monarchs, then the side of
socialists, then the side of liberals, democrats; taking any side in order to push
across your point of view and eventually come to power. They talk about the
control of the press, the control of money, etc. Here follow a few excerpts to show
the spirit of this document:
He who wants to rule must have recourse to cunning and hypocrisy.
We must not stop short before bribery, deceit and treachery, if these are to
serve the achievement of our cause. And this very philosophy can be found in the
Talmud which says that anything is possible; you can deceive any non-Jew, a Goi,
for your own purposes.
The end justifies the means. In making our plans we must pay attention
not so much to what is good and moral, as to what is necessary and profitable.
With the press we will deal in the following manner.... We will harness it and
will guide it with firm reins; we will also have to gain control of all other
publishing firms....
All news is received by a few agencies, in which it is centralized from all
parts of the world. When we attain power these agencies will belong to us entirely
and we will only publish such news as we allow....
No one desirous of attacking us with his pen would find a publisher....cxxvii
It is interesting here to note that, of all the groups in the world, the Jews are
the ones who are strongest in this department, because it is not possible to mention
the Jews in even a slightly critical tone without having a representative of the AntiDefamation League come to visit you. That is why Orthodox publishers are very
careful not to say anything about the Jews because they know that someone will
come around and begin checking up on them, and if there is something they dont
like, theyll start conducting a campaign of slanders and arousing public opinion
and all sorts of things against you. There are some people who talk about the
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Jewish peril. Of course, they go overboard about it -- like Gerald K. Smith


whose main emphasis is the Jewish peril; and he is crazy about it.
Our programme will induce a third part of the populace to watch the
remainder from a pure sense of duty and from the principle of a voluntary
government service. It will not be considered dishonorable to be a spy; on the
contrary, it will be regarded as praiseworthy.
We will transform the universities and reconstruct them according to our
own plans. The heads of universities and their professors will be specially
prepared by means of elaborate secret programmes of action....
We intend to appear as though we were the liberators of the laboring
man.... We shall suggest to him to join the ranks of our armies of Socialists,
Anarchists and Communists. The latter we always patronize, pretending to help
them out of fraternal principle and the general interest of humanity evoked by our
socialistic masonry.
In the so-considered leading countries we have circulated an insane,
dirty, and disgusting literature.
In the place of existing governments we will place a monster, which will
be called the Administration of the Super-Government. Its hands will be
outstretched like far-reaching pincers, and it will have such an organization at its
disposal that it will not possibly be able to fail in subduing all countries.
We shall have an international super-government.cxxviii
This is back to Weishaupt, the French Revolution and the idea of
internationalism.
We will destroy the family life of the Gentiles....
We will also distract them by various kinds of amusement, games,
pastimes, passions, public houses, etc.
The people of the Christians, bewildered by alcohol, their youths turned
crazy by classics and early debauchery, to which they have been instigated by our
agents,... by our women in places of amusement....
The masonic lodge throughout the world unconsciously acts as a mask for
our purpose.
Most people who enter secret societies are adventurers, who want
somehow to make their way in life, and who are not seriously minded. With such
people it will be easy for us to pursue our object, and will make them set our
machinery in motion.cxxix
Of course, this is the idea behind many of these people and groups, that we
have the real secret society and we are going to manipulate all these other people.
The Communists are constantly infiltrating the anarchists; the anarchists, the
socialists; the socialists, everybody else; and nobody can trust any more; nobody
knows who is behind what.
We employ in our service people of all opinions and all parties; men
desiring to re-establish monarchies, Socialists, etc.
We have taken great care to discredit the clergy of the Gentiles in the eyes
of the people, and thus have succeeded in injuring their mission, which
could have been very much in our way. The influence of the clergy on the
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people is diminishing daily. Today freedom of religion prevails everywhere,


but the time is only a few years off when Christianity will fall to pieces
altogether.
We must extract the very conception of God from the minds of the
Christians....
We must destroy all professions of faith.
We persuaded the Gentiles that liberalism would bring
them to a kingdom of reason.
We injected the poison of liberalism into the organ of the State....
We will pre-arrange for the election of...presidents whose past is
marred with some Panama Scandal or other shady hidden transaction.cxxx
They go on to talk about their creating a universal money crisis, using
the masonic lodges.
We must take no account of the numerous victims which will have to
be sacrificed in order to obtain future prosperity.cxxxi
There are two new things in this whole plan. Of course they ascribe all this
to Jewish and power; and undoubtedly there are Jewish groups like that who think
that they are going to conquer the world. The two new ideas in them, however, are:
1) they are not atheistic. They believe in one world religion. They say in the 14th
protocol, When we come into our kingdom it will be undesirable for us that there
should exist any other religion than ours of the One God with Whom our destiny is
bound up by our position as the Chosen People and through Whom our same
destiny is united with the destinies of the world. We must therefore sweep away all
other forms of belief. If this gives birth to the atheists whom we see today, it will
not, being only a transitional stage, interfere with our views, but will serve as a
warning for those generations who will hearken to our preaching of the religion of
Moses, that, by its stable and thoroughly elaborated system has brought all the
peoples of the world into subjection to us. Therein we shall emphasize its mystical
right....cxxxii
Of course, this is in accord with the more profound revolutionaries who
saw that the revolution must become religious in the end. Atheism is only a
transition in order to get rid of previous religious views.
In the meantime while we are re-educating youth in new traditional
religions and afterwards in ours, we shall not overtly lay a finger on existing
churches, but we shall fight against them by criticism calculated to produce
schism.cxxxiii
The second new ingredient in this revolutionary proposal is that there
will be one world monarch. The third protocol reads as follows:
Ever since that time we have been leading the peoples from one
disenchantment to another, so that in the end they should turn also from us in favor
of that King Despot of the blood of Zion, whom we are preparing for he world.
It is probably all the same to the world who [is] its sovereign lord,
whether this be the head of Catholicism or our despot of the blood of Zion. But
to us, the Chosen People, it is very far from being a matter of indifference.cxxxiv
We see here that this is already a rival to the Pope as a world ruler.
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Tenth protocol: The recognition of our despot may also come before the
destruction of the constitution; the moment for this recognition will come when
the peoples, utterly wearied by the irregularities and incompetence -- a matter
which we shall arrange for -- of their rulers, will clamor: Away with them and
give us one king over all the earth who will unite us and annihilate the causes of
discord -- frontiers, nationalities, religions, State debts -- who will give us peace
and quiet, which we cannot find under our own rulers and representatives.
When the king of Israel sets upon his sacred head the
crown offered him by Europe he will become patriarch of the world. The
indispensable victims offered by him in consequence of their suitability will never
reach the number of victims offered in the course of centuries by the mania of
magnificence, the emulation between the Goi governments.
Our king will be in constant communion with the peoples, making to them
from the tribune speeches which we will in the same hour distribute all over the
world.cxxxv
The supreme lord who will replace all now-existing rulers, it says in the
23rd protocol, dragging on their existence among societies demoralized by us,
societies which have denied even the authority of God, from whose midst breaks
out on all sides the fire of anarchy, must first of all proceed to quench this alldevouring flame. Therefore he will be obliged to kill off those existing societies,
though he should drench them with his own blood, that he might resurrect them
again in the form of regularly organized troops fighting consciously with every
kind of infection that may cover the body of the State with sores.
This Chosen One of God is chosen from above to demolish the senseless
forces moved by instinct (and not reason, by brutishness) and not humanness.
These forces now triumph in manifestations of robbery and every kind of violence
under the mask of principles of freedom and rights. They have overthrown all
forms of social order to erect on [the ruins of] the throne of the King of the Jews;
but their part will be played out the moment he enters into his kingdom. Then it
will be necessary to sweep them away from his path, on which must be left no
knot, no splinter.
Then will it be possible for us to say to the peoples of the world: Give
thanks to God and bow the knee before him who bears on his front the seal of the
predestination of man, to which God himself had led His star that none other but
Him might free us from all the aforementioned forces and evils.
All this is deeply in accord with the philosophy of the Talmud, of the desire
of the Jews for a Messiah who is of this world; and it is not surprising that there
should be some kind of Jewish organization which has this philosophy. The
philosophy is actually that of Marx; the ruthlessness, the using of everybody else
for its own purpose, the establishing of one world rule -- everything except the fact
that Marx did not believe in God.
The interesting thing about this document is the historical [significance?] it
was placed to in the twentieth century. A certain man named Rosenberg who came
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from Russia to Germany after the Revolution brought this book with him and
showed it to Hitler who immediately saw in this something which he could use
from two points of view: 1) by showing this to the people, it would enflame their
hatred for the Jews -- because they are trying to establish a world monarchy; and
he could blame all the problems of Germany on them -- the currency crisis, the
depression, the unemployment, etc. -- and say this is a secret society trying to take
over Germany, and 2) he admitted the book was very well written, I will use that
as my philosophy to govern.cxxxvi And so this document became one of the very
important sources for the National Socialism of Hitler who placed himself in the
place of the world monarch of the Jews.
Now we will look at these three great movements in the twentieth century
which prove that all these philosophers are not simple idle thinkers; they were
speaking of things which were entering into reality -- the three great totalitarian
systems in the twentieth century.
One of them is not particularly important to us and that is the system of
Mussolini, the fascist. It is perhaps not much appreciated that in his youth
Mussolini was a Marxist; he took part in many Marxist demonstrations; he talked
about the dictatorship of the proletariat, the coming of the Communist State, the
withering away of the state, and was a typical radical
just like any other Marxist demonstrator. When he got a chance to come into
power, he saw that by combining various elements of society and giving one
message to one and one to the other, he could come to power on a platform which
looks a little different; and therefore he developed this fascism which is a romantic
kind of socialism and even got the king on his side, made a concordat with the
Pope, and therefore became a dictator on a basis which is not absolutely
Communism but is based on the same ruthless dictatorship. So this is not an
example of the ruthless Communism as such, but the same kind of man which is
produced by Communist philosophy. The fact that he was allied with so-called
right-wing forces is only incidental. His idol was Lenin because Lenin was one
who had power and took over; and therefore he based his system on Lenin, that is,
the practical system of how to get power.
Bolshevism
The second great movement, and the greatest actually in the twentieth
century, which today encompasses almost half the world is Bolshevism. Marxism
in Russia, which more than anything persuades us that these ideas all the way from
Weishaupt down to the Protocols are very realistic, that the Christian world is
indeed being overthrown and something new can be successful. Unlike all the
previous revolutions of the last century, this one succeeds for almost sixty years. It
is a ruthless extermination of the old order, the destruction of churches, killing of
priests on an extent which up to then was unknown. In all the previous revolutions
there were only some half million people killed, perhaps a million altogether. Now
we come to a place where, according to estimates, perhaps sixty million people
were killed directly as the result of the Revolution. And so the idea which we saw
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expressed in The Possessed of killing off a hundred million people is not farfetched at all. The system of Communism was tempered a bit by the necessities of
ruling people and therefore Communism in Russia is not the perfect application of
the principles of Weishaupt or Marx. The idea of free love, for example, was tried
until it was found to be not too practical and they reinstituted marriage with even
some fake kind of ceremony. And they saw that when the people are living like
dogs in the streets, it produces a disharmony in society; and you cannot push the
revolution forward. So they quickly began to put this into order, that is,
reintroducing the idea of marriage, although without any idea of sacrament, of
course. And it is common knowledge, as one boy who was in Moscow told us, you
can get a girl for as cheap as a cup of coffee. There is no idea of morality
whatsoever.
Lenin was a great admirer of Nechayev, the most revolutionary and was
motivated by no principles whatsoever except the triumph of Communism. His
ideal is first of all to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat according to
Marx.
According to Lenin this dictatorship is: a domination that is untrammeled by law
and based on violence.cxxxvii According to Lenins ideal, before the dictatorship of
the proletariat comes to an end, the whole of society will have become one office
and one factory with equal work and equal pay and there will be no way of getting
away from it. There will be nowhere to go.cxxxviii
In Communism we see a very violent revolution whose victims are in the
many millions, even when there seems to be no practical necessity for it. And here
we should look at one view of Marx and Lenin which points to us what happens to
man when he enters the revolution. The violence of the revolution and this love of
violence, of burning and destroying -- is not only for the sake of overthrowing the
old order. There is another purpose. Marx says:
Both for the production on a mass scale of this Communist consciousness and for
the success of the cause itself, the alteration of men on a mass scale is necessary;
an alteration which can only take place in a practical movement, a revolution: this
revolution is necessary, therefore, not only because the ruling class cannot be
overthrown in any other way, but also because the class overthrowing it can only in
a revolution succeed in ridding itself of all the muck of ages and become fitted to
found society In revolutionary activity, change of self coincides
with the change of circumstances.cxl
That is, mankind is somehow to be changed. And we know what man
becomes in revolution: he becomes a beast, totally gripped by the fever for blood,
for destroying. This is something very frightful; the demons are let loose and the
person becomes demonized. And this is what Marx wants: that man can become
something new, no longer able to love family, country, to have normal morality, to
have love for God, to have all those normal things which normal society accepts as
standard of action. There will be someone new, completely uprooted, the man of
the moment, someone to whom you can tell: Go out and kill a million people;
and he will go off and do it without even thinking. This is the kind of new man that
the Communists want to make.
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Of course, this making of a new man is not only the result of Communist
activity. We see with the prevalence of radical philosophies, atheist philosophies,
the decline of morality, the looseness of philosophy of life in the West where there
are no Communists to take over -- the same producing of a man who is ruthless,
has no contact with tradition, with the past, with God...
One contemporary writer on this subject, Erich Kahler, has said one interesting
thing: The powerful trend toward the disruption and invalidation of the
individual...manifestly present in the most diverse currents of modern life -economic, technological, political, scientific, educational, psychic and artistic -appears so overwhelming that we are induced to see in it a true mutation, a
transformation of human nature.cxli We shall leave this until the next lecture when
we shall discuss other people who have discussed precisely the question of how
human nature is going to be transformed.
Hitler
We will go now to Hitler about whom we wont say too much and then
come back to discuss the points in common of Nazism and communism. Hitlers
whole system of National
Socialism is, without going into the romantic side of it -- his love for Wagner, the
Twilight of the God, his romanticism -- in a word, his system is Bolshevism again
with some compromises like Mussolini made in order to gain control of the ruling
elements; but basically his philosophy is Bolshevism adapted to a different value
scale. In Bolshevism everything is interpreted in terms of economics and class; and
there is a class war of the lower class against the upper class. Hitler has the same
thing, only instead of a class was he has a racial war: Germany against the world.
His system is quite millennial and in fact he called his empire the Thousand Year
Reich, the thousand year empire which is directly from the Apocalypse. He also
took Lenin as his model because he was quite ruthless and his philosophy is no
different. He is a typical example of the uprooted man, he has no belief in God, no
morality, no higher values and he felt deep kinship to Bolshevism. Like Napoleon
he thought of the resurrection of the Roman Empire, but also like Napoleon he
recognized that the times were not suited for that...
b. Jews: Protocols his plans. Lenin his model. Felt kinship to
Bolshevism. When all but he said: The
future belongs solely to the stronger E. nation. cxlii
...happened to be on Mt. Athos he should find in some monastery a document
which would give him the right to the Eastern empire Roman Empire? he should
put it away and save it for a future day. This shows that the idea of a universal
monarch is still present although the times are so ? and so matter of fact that right
now it is not useful. But in the future when more romantic ideas become
fashionable this idea of the
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TAPE BEGINS
... the entire resurrection of the Roman Empire can be very plausible. His
relationship to the Jews is most interesting because he used the Jewish
question as a scapegoat, like the Bolsheviks used the middle class, the
bourgeois. Every time something goes wrong, its the fault of the bourgeois
sabbateurs or the big peasants who were trying to overthrow the
government.
And therefore you kill off a million more and youre safe for a while. With Hitler
this took the form of the Jews and a whole romantic mystical philosophy of race
in which the Germans are the superior, superior race, and others -- they have a
whole hierarchy of them -- the Gypsies, Poles and so forth are, go lower and
lower. The Russians are somewhere in the middle, theyre pretty low. And he was
looked at by one person who was close to him, a certain [Hermann] Rauschning,
who in the thirties and early forties was writing, he escaped in about 1938. He was
an ordinary mayor of Danzig, and at first thought that Hitler was going to save
conservatism. But he became very close to [him], had many long talks with him,
and began to see that the man is crazy. Might be not crazy, but he has [a] very,
very definite philosophy which [is] absolutely unheard of. And he was the one
who first came out and began to tell the world what this man is standing for, based
on his conversations.
And one conversation he had with him, and he said,
Why are you so upset about the Jews? Why do you have to be so fanatical about
the Jews? And he said, What characterizes the Jews? And Rauschning said,
Well, they think theyre the chosen people; theyre, they have some kind of
messiah-complex.cxliii He said, Yes, just that. And what about we Germans? If we
are the master race and if we are going to conquer the world, how can we allow
that there will be another people who has the idea that they are the chosen people?
If the Jews are the chosen people, the Germans cannot be the chosen people. And
therefore we must exterminate the Jews, so that the Germans may take their place.
And I will be their messiah, that is, the messiah of the Germans. And he even
said one place that, If you like, I will be antichrist. Its all the same to me.cxliv
Hitler had the idea, he was a very unreligious person himself, had no God or
anything, but like Napoleon, he was very interested in the religious question. And
he said, After Ive conquered the world, I shall then give my greatest
contribution to humanity. I will solve the religious question.cxlv He didnt say
exactly how he was going to solve it. He did say that he would cause to be erected
in all high places, high mountains throughout the world, telescopes, and
underneath the telescope would be written the inscription, To the Unknown
God. And of course, if he did become world conqueror, he would not very well
have been able to resist the temptation to think that he was a god. But the fact that
he had this idea of solving the religious question makes him, like Napoleon, one
of these forerunners of antichrist.
He hated the Western democracies.
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By the way, he abolished all secret societies. And for him, everything was a
Jewish-Masonic plot. The Masons were not allowed to exist, of course, for the
same reason that the Communists destroyed all secret societies and Napoleon
destroyed all secret societies: because the one in power does not need any secret
society. They only cause, he knew himself, having gone through all kinds of secret
societies that these were stirring up discord.
And of course he was fighting against Bolshevism because he recognized
that we are the two who are fighting for the supremacy of the world. One of us
must conquer it. And when it came to the last days in Berlin, we have his notes
preserved from his last days. And he saw that he was going to lose. And then he
could not bear the thought that the British and the Americans had defeated him,
because he regarded them as effeminate, weak, backwards, out of date. And so he
said, as kind of his last testament, The future belongs solely to the stronger
Eastern
nation.cxlvi As though he gave his inheritance to Bolshevism, which shows he
recognized there that same kind of power that brought him to power: this
primodial revolution thats going to conquer the world and destroy the past.
Hitler said, when he was still coming to power, and had already the thought
of world empire, We may be destroyed, but if we are, we shall drag with us a
world, a world in flames.cxlvii And we see here the same impulse behind the
Commune of Paris which wanted to destroy Paris.
In the last days of the war, when obviously Germany was invaded on all
sides and 14-year-old boys were being sent out to fight, the end was obviously
near. Germans were fighting on to the last moment.
By the way, we should not think that the Reich of Hitler was to be compared
with the Bolsheviks because in all respects Hitler was much more humane. It was
possible to talk to the SS, to the Gestapo. It was possible to talk them out of
sending you to a prison camp. Could be expect some, to some extent justice from
them. And anybody who lived under both Hitler and the Communists, they will tell
you there was no choice. They always went back to Germany whenever the battle
lines changed. We know many people who were in Germany during that time. And
they say that of course it was a kind of crazy place, and Hitler was very strange.
Nonetheless, some kind of normal life was still possible; whereas under the
Bolsheviks the totalitarianism is absolutely absolute.
So in that sense Hitler is a small imitation of the Bolsheviks; he was still
very much compromising with the past. But in the last days of the war, his
propaganda minister Goebbels explained on the radio something which sounds
very Marxist, as the bombs were falling all around. --The bomb-terror spares the
dwellings of neither rich nor poor; before the labor offices of total war the last
class barriers have had to go down.... Together with the monuments of culture there
crumble also the last obstacles to the fulfillment of our revolutionary task. Now
that everything is in ruins, we are forced to rebuild Europe. In the past, private
possessions tied us to a bourgeous restraint. Now the bombs, instead of killing all
Europeans have only smashed the prison walls which kept them captive.... In
trying to destroy Europes future, the enemy has only succeeded in smashing its
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past; and with that, everything old and outworn has gone.cxlviii
So the aim of Nazism, the function of Nazism in world history, is to destroy
the past. And the Bolsheviks who were doing the same thing in Russia, when they
triumph, their object now is to go throughout the world and destroy this, this past.
And they were even organized as in the last days in Germany, some kind of
wolfpacks of youths who were to go about and destroy buildings, that is the
Germans destroying their own buildings so that the enemy would have nothing to,
the past civilization would have no remnant left.
And now we wonder what is beyond all this. If this is some kind of
universal destruction, if old religion, if old art, culture, civilization is to be
destroyed, and the very buildings of the past are to be destroyed, what is the
revolutionary idea of the future? We see that theres some idea of changing man.
Well look at two brief quotes from Nietzsche, whom well discuss in the
next lecture as one of the chief prophets of this new age. He says two things which
are most interesting from this point of view. One, he says in his book, The Will to
Power, Under certain circumstances, the appearance of the extremest form of
Pessimism and actual Nihilism might be the sign of a process of incisive and most
essential growth, and of mankinds transit into completely new conditions of
existence. This is what I have understood.cxlix
Again, hes, when he speaks about his concept of the transvaluation of all
values, he says, With this formula a counter-movement finds expression, in regard
to both a principle and a mission; a movement which in some remote future will
supersede this perfect Nihilism; but which nevertheless regards it
(Nihilism) as a necessary step, both logically and psychologically, towards its
own advent, and which positively can not come, except on top of and out of it.cl
And we have a very interesting quote from Lenin. And he says, actually
giving his ideal of the one factory throughout the world which noone can escape,
But this factory discipline, which the proletariat will extend to the whole of
society after the defeat of the capitalists and the overthrow of the exploiters, is by
no means our ideal, or our final aim. It is but a foothold necessary for the radical
cleansing of society of all the hideousness and
foulness of capitalist exploitation, in order to advance further.cli And Lenin
himself, for all his arguments against the anarchists, is finally forced to admit that
the final goal of Communism is exactly the same as the final goal of Bakunin and
the anarchists: that is, some kind of absolute anarchy.
In the next lecture well go into what this possibly can mean. And it does
have a definite meaning in the theology of the revolution.
Well finish with a brief quote from a poet of our century, W.B. Yeats, Irish
poet very much mixed up with occultism, who founded his own lodge of
occultism, was very sympathetic at one time to Hitler because he seemed to be
incarnating some new kind of occult principle. And in fact, Hitler himself
proclaimed himself as the first dictator in a new age of magic.
Yeats wrote, -Dear predatory birds, prepare for war.... Love war because of
its horror, that belief may be changed, civilization renewed.... Belief comes
from shock.... Belief is
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renewed continually in the ordeal of death.clii


And well discuss in the next lecture this idea that, out of all this destruction
which the revolutionaries themselves do not know the meaning of. All they know
is they feel like destroying. All past standards are gone. There is nothing more to
restrain them. Their passions come out. And they just destroy, kill -- with the most
frightful thing. In fact, weve never had such a bloody century as our own century
when this purely senseless brutality is carried on.
And the book of Solzhenitsyn, the Gulag, is must-reading actually for one
that wants to understand what the revolution means, how it can be that people
who talk about liberty and freedom and brotherhood can have established the
most frightful tyranny in the history of mankind, not excluding any of the
ancient, Eastern despots or Assyrians or Egyptians or anybody else, the most
frightful despotism the world has ever seen, the most bloody regime by people
who believe in freedom, liberty and brotherhood, and how its quite deliberately
accomplished in order to belittle man and destroy him.
The people who make the revolutions ordinarily do not see this -- what the
thing is beyond. But they all feel that in doing this they are destroying the whole
weight of civilization, of religion, of tradition. Once it is destroyed, and we see
how it took a long time, from the time of when French Revolution began. And all
these revolutions are unsuccessful obviously because theres too much weight
from the past left, too much tradition is left, too much culture and civilization is
still left. Theres only when theyve destroyed everything, and even made man
some kind of new creature, some kind of person who is used to violence.
And we see in the West, if you look, children look at television. They see
people get killed off every day. They get very callous towards violence, towards
bloodshed. The same kind of thing is going on in the free world to make people
used to bloodshed, violence -- quite callous to it.
And once this kind of person is introduced, then theres going to come a
new religious revelation. And even W.B. Yeats says this is all positive. We should
love this whole process of revolution and war and destruction because it means a
new revolution is being born. And now well have to look in the next lecture....
And this new religion, all bound up with the idea of anarchy, the idea of
overcoming nihilism, is the end of the revolution, which a few very astute people
have seen into and have spoken about.

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Lecture 10
New Religion
Passages from Nietzsche Lecture of 1980 appear in a different type face.
A. Introduction
1. Having seen the outward progress of the Revolution of modern
times, now we turn to deeper spiritual-philosophical causes of it
-- what happened in the human soul to make it want Revolution
that seems to make so little sense, be so impossible? What is
theology of Revolution?
2. End of 18th century is end of Old Order -- age of stability, human
institutions and art and culture based on at least remnant of
Christianity and Christian feeling. Outbreak of Revolution
coincides with end of civilization. For 200 years we have been in a
new age, a seeking for a new order.
B. Crisis of knowledge -- end of rationalism
1. Since Middle Ages, Rationalism reduces sphere of knowledge
as it criticizes every tradition, spiritual realm, myth except
outward world.
2. With Hume, reason goes as far as it can go -- destroys all certain
knowledge even of outward world. He said we can know only
what we experience. Thus, against miracles; then, even natural
religion: Randall 300.
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That the divinity may possibly be endowed with attributes which we have
never seen exerted; may be governed by principles of action, which we cannot
discover to be satisfied: all this will freely be allowed. But still this is mere
possibility and hypothesis. We never can have reason to infer any attributes, or any
principles of action in him, but so far as we know them to have been exerted and
satisfied. Are there any marks of a distributive justice in the world? If you answer
in the affirmative, I answer that, since justice here exerts itself, it is satisfied. If you
reply in the negative, I conclude, that you have then no reason to ascribe justice, in
our sense of it, to the gods. If you hold a medium between affirmation and
negation, by saying, that the justice of the gods, at present, exerts itself in part, but
not in its full extent: I answer, that you have no reason to give it particular extent,
but only so far as you see it at present exert itself. cliii
No argument for the existence of God: 301.
[Randall, p. 310] Having thus disposed of the rational basis for faith in the
moral governance of the world, Hume went on, in his Dialogues, to show that there
could not even be any argument for the existence of an all-wise and all-good
Creator. There is no necessity of the universe having had a first cause. It is as easy
to conceive of it as self-existent and eternal as to assume an external cause with
those qualities. There is no analogy between an object in the world, like a watch,
and the entire world; we have seen watches made, but not worlds. Order may be as
natural as chaos, and hence harmony and universal law need no further reason for
their existence, other than that we find them to obtain. From a finite world as effect
we could assume at the most only a finite cause. If the universe did indeed have an
author, he may have been an incompetent workman, or he may have long since
died after completing his work, or he may have been a male and a female god, or a
great number of gods. He may have been entirely good, or entirely evil, or both, or
neither -- probably the last. cliv
Holbach went further: materialism 302.
Is it not more natural and more intelligible to derive everything which
exists from the bosom of matter, whose existence is demonstrated by every one of
our senses, whose effects we each instant experience, which we see acting,
moving, communicating motion and generation ceaselessly, than to attribute the
formation of things to an unknown force, to a spiritual being which cannot develop
from its nature what it is not itself, and which, by the spiritual essence attributed to
it is incapable of doing anything and of setting anything in motion? clv
3. But Hume goes further: undermine even knowledge of facts.
Brinton paper 2-6; then p. 1 on chill.
Man has two sorts of perceptions...distinguishable by their varying
liveliness and forcibleness; and there are two sorts of knowledge which correspond
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to them. On the one hand there is immediate sensation, present experience -- what
he calls impressions; from these we obtain knowledge of matters of fact. Then,
there are our less lively impressions -- our ideas -- from which we come to know
the relations of ideas. Our ideas are without exception derived from our
impressions, and the only power of our minds is in compounding, transposing,
augmenting, or diminishing the materials afforded us by the
senses and experience. clvi Our ideas, then, are more feeble, decidely secondary -certainly not a source of knowledge in the practical affairs of ethics, politics,
economics, which, in a secular outlook such as that prevailing in the eighteenth
century, are the principle concerns of man. (No more, of course, can they tell us
anything about God or any other such transcendental object beyond the experience
of man.) Knowledge of the relations of ideas tells us only about those ideas, not
about the primary impressions from which they are derived. Knowledge here is
certain -- because it is subjective. If we examine the way in which our mind works
we can discover how it orders and relates the ideas presented to it; but the
subjective working of our mind has nothing to do with that external reality which
we seek most of all to know.
Our inquiry, then, into useful knowledge, must have to do exclusively
with our impressions,...
[Transcript text begins in middle of Fr. Seraphims Brinton paper quote]
...what we can know about the outer world, ...deal only with what he
called impressions, matters of fact.
First of all, we must acknowledge that we cannot know what things are
in themselves. We do not have knowledge of the external entities which are
presented to our senses, but only of the images of those things. All we can know is
what we perceive and since all external objects must be seen through our senses,
all we can know are those objects not as they are in themselves, but as they are
seen through our senses. What we see is not a tree, but only the image of a tree
as our sense of sight modifies it in taking it up into its perception. When we back
away from it, it is not the tree that becomes smaller but the perception of it in our
minds. And when we press our eyeballs in a certain way, it is not the tree that
becomes double, but the image of it which is all we can know of it.
So to begin with...we must realize that even our knowledge of matters of
fact has a great deal of subjectivity in it. But now we must look to see if theres
any objectivity at all in our knowledge.
...The next question we will ask about these impressions is how do we
come to know them? Beyond the evidence of the immediate sense-testimony and
the memory of this sense testimony, there is only one thing, one relation,
which is cause and effect. When confronted with a certain cause, we expect a
certain effect; and much of our daily experience is based upon the regularity of
this relationship between causes and effects. But here again, if we search for
certainty we are bound to be disappointed: there is no necessary connection
between cause and effect; we infer such a connection through experience of
constant conjunction of two events. Thus, whenever I put my hand into a flame, I
experience pain; but this will not necessarily happen each...time I do it, because
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we have no knowledge that theres a certain connection between these two


events.
And so he says, The contrary of every matter of fact is still possible;
because it can never imply a contradiction, and it is conceived by the mind
with the same facility and distinctness, as if ever so conformable to reality.clvii
That is, it could happen as far as we know, that I put my hand in the flame and it
will not experience pain. But how then do we infer this necessary connection
between cause and effect? And he says that its only by custom or habit. All
inferences from experience[, therefore,] are effects of custom, not of reasoning.
Custom, then, is the great guide of human life. It is that principle alone which
renders our experiences useful to us and makes us expect, for the future, a similar
train of events with those which have appeared in the past.clviii
But what, then, is left of knowledge and of the certain, absolute
knowledge which the philosophers of the eighteenth century thought they had?
The answer according to
Hume: Nothing, whatsoever. Reason is a subjective faculty which has no
necessary relation with the facts we seek to know. It is limited to tracing the
relations of our ideas, which themselves are already twice removed from
reality. And our senses are equally subjective, for they can never know the
thing in itself, only an image of it which has in it no element of necessity and
certainty -- the contrary of every matter of fact is still possible.
So he says, Do you follow the instincts and propensities of nature in
ascending to the veracity, the truthfulness of sense? But these lead you to believe
that the very perception or sensible image is the external object. Which, of
course, is not true; it is not. Its only an image in our mind. Do you disclaim
this principle, in order to embrace a more rational opinion that the perceptions are
only representations of something external? But here you depart from your
natural propensities and more obvious sentiments; and still you are not able to
satisfy your reason, which can never find any convincing argument from
experience to prove, that these perceptions are connected with any external
objects.clix And so, knowledge is dissolved.
And what, then, is the answer? How do we live, according to Hume? And
heres his answer: The great subverter of...the excessive principles of skepticism
is action, and employment, and the occupations of common life. These principles
may flourish and triumph in the schools,... But as soon as they leave the shade, and
by the presence of the real objects, which actuate our passions, and sentiments, are
put into opposition to the more powerful principles of our nature, they vanish like
smoke, and leave the most determined skeptic in the same condition as other
mortals.clxclxi
Well, its very nice for him to say because he was a very comfortable
English gentleman. He had his fireplace, cozy warm nook, country house. And in
fact wrote his history of England and was concerned about practical things; and
this philosophy did not upset him terribly. But the poor people who read this and
take it seriously and have a real sort of passion to know what they can know and
they believe in reason, for them the whole universe is destroyed. In fact, thats one
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deep thing in our modern thinkers for the last two hundred years, this sort of
despair at ever being able to know anything, which sort of dissolves the fabric of
their
life....
Youre going to believe in philosophy and sort of start reasoning things
through, you want to come to the truth, and you get up against Hume and thinkers
like that.
[From Nietzsche 1980 lecture:]...this change which occurred between
eighteenth century and, that is, from the time when Hume criticized reality, that
reality is not quite as secure as we thought. [end of addition]
And all of a sudden the whole world sort of dissolves and the next thing
you know, you are wondering, Do I, do I exist? Does the world exist? What is
what? And you can actually kill yourself if you start thinking like that and take it
really seriously. And, of course, people have killed themselves over that. Others
have overthrown philosophy and gone up to start burning down buildings because
thats something real, you know, action. He says Action. For him action means
sitting around, and smoking his pipe and writing English history.
Somebody else, that is, if they dont have that education, that desire, for them
action means revolution, burning things up, killing people.
And so, with justice, one of the writers on the philosophy of the
Enlightenment has the following thing to say about Hume. Carl Becker is his
name. He wrote a book called The Heavenly City of the EighteenthCentury
Philosophers. And this Carl Becker describes all these philosophers and progress
and so forth, and then he comes to Hume. And he says when you read Hume, after
reading all the other philosophers, its as though at high noon of the great age of
Enlightenment, all of a sudden theres a cloud, a chill, some kind of a strange thing
comes to, you begin to wonder what, I thought everything was just fine, its all
sunny and warm.
To read Humes Dialogues after having read, with sympathetic
understanding, the earnest deists and optimistic philosophers of the early century,
is to experience a slight chill, a feeling of apprehension. It is as if, at high noon of
the Enlightenment, at the hour of the siesta when everything seems to be so quiet
and secure all about, one were suddenly aware of the short, sharp slipping of the
foundations, a faint far-off tremor running underneath the solid ground of common
sense.clxii
All of a sudden you feel this chill. Theres something cold and dark on the
horizon about to come up, because the ideas of Hume destroyed reality. No more is
it possible to believe, that is, can we simply accept reality the way it is. Throw God
out and we will have indefinite progress in this world. And Hume destroyed the
idea that the world is stable. He said we can never know the world the way it is
because cause and effect is only a part of the custom. And theres no law in
science. All you have is custom. Theres nothing objective or absolute about it. He
himself didnt become a prophet of any new religion, but he has left his ideas there.
Of course, this would later produce a great earthquake in our own times.
Therere a lot of now modern academic historians who like eighteenth
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century a lot because its full of optimism. It was the time of great music, Bach and
Handel, and the philosophy was also very optimistic. The poetry was very upbeat
and everything was very positive. There was nothing but good to come from the
future, indefinite progress.
And so this revolutionary age of the eighteenth century preceding the
Revolution begins with great optimism and even the people who make the
Revolution also begin with great optimism, not realizing that by the end of the
century, the most advanced philosophers have just destroyed any possibility for
any real knowledge of the external world. And it takes time for deep ideas like that
to filter down into the people, but when they do, well see it produces disastrous
effects.
Kant
Now well come to the thinker who is at this very time, the beginning of the
revolutionary age, who stands between this old world of rationalistic philosophy
when philosophers still thought they could reason to certain conclusions, even
though they kept changing conclusions, and our new age when all of knowledge
becomes uncertain. And this thinker has a very key place because he performed
what he called, what has been called, the Copernican Revolution of philosophy.
And his name is Immanuel Kant, who lived 1724 to 1804.
We already saw that the very beginning of modern philosophy with
Descartes had begun not with some kind of outward observation or revelation; it
began already with some kind of subjectivism. That is, when Descartes said: I
think, therefore I am, this is the first clear idea and from this, he deduces
everything else -- the outward world, God and absolutely everything because if
there is something, then the world is real. If theres a real world, then there must be
a God who created it. And he has clear, distinct ideas about all these realities and
thinks he has a nice, tight philosophical system. But it all begins with his own
observation of himself, which of course shows how far away he is from
Christianity, which starts with God Who created the world and created us. But
since they trust reason as the only faculty which can give us knowledge, they
cannot start with God because you do not see God.
And so it happens that when these rationalists, particularly Hume, succeed
in destroying our knowledge of God, of religion, of the spiritual world and then
even of the material world, what is left? And the answer: what is left is the same,
some kind of self-awareness. And so the last hope that man has that there is some
kind of knowledge rests in his own awareness of himself. And this is what Kant
did. He made a Copernican revolution by saying that it is not the mind which
revolves around the world, in order to know what it is; it is rather the world which
revolves around me, around the mind. We can never know what is out there, the
thing in itself, the noumenon he calls it, but we can only know it as it appears to us;
and such categories of reality as space and time are not categories of outward
reality, but rather, of my mind; that is, I must see them in terms of space and mind.
These are the categories which my mind organizes a reality with. And of course, if
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this is true, there is some kind of knowledge left. Not as reality as it is in itself, but
reality as it must appear to me because I have that kind of mind. And so,
knowledge is possible. And even knowledge of God is possible because he says
that its based on inward feeling, subjective feeling, which shows how much he
was under the influence of the Pietist movement of his time which was reacting
against the Enlightenment rationalism, the deadness of it. But reality in itself is
absolutely unknowable. Only what I see is knowable.
We have here observations on this by Heinrich Heine, a German Jew, who
came to France because it was too dangerous in Germany and wrote this book on
Religion and Philosophy in Germany in 1833 or 4, and got ahold of the feeling
behind these thinkers very nicely and communicated what their meaning is. He was
trying to interpret German philosophy to the French. And this is what he has to say
about Kant:
I am about to speak of a man whose mere name has the might of an
exorcism; I speak of Immanuel Kant.
It is said that night-wandering spirits are filled with terror at sight of the
headmans axe. With what mighty fear, then, must they be stricken when there is
held up to them Kants
Critique of Pure Reason. This is the sword that slew Deism in Germany.
To speak frankly, you French have been tame and moderate compared
with us Germans. At most you could but kill a king, and he had already lost his
head before you guillotined him. For accompaniment to such deeds you must
needs cause
such a drumming and shrieking and stamping of feet that the whole universe
trembled. To compare Maximilian Robespierre with Immanuel Kant is to confer
too high an honor upon the former. Maximilian Robespierre, the great citizen of the
Rue Saint Honor, had, it is true, his sudden attacks of destructiveness when it was
a question of the monarchy, and his frame was violently convulsed when the fit of
regicidal epilepsy was on; but as soon as it came to be a question about the
Supreme Being, he wiped the white froth from his lips, washed the blood from his
hands, donned his blue Sunday coat with silver buttons, and stuck a nosegay into
the bosom of his broad vest.clxiii
He went to Notre Dame to worship Reason and God and even to burn the
image of atheism.
The history of Immanuel Kants life is difficult to portray, for he had
neither life nor history. He led a mechanical, regular, almost abstract bachelor
existence in a little retired street of Konigsberg, an old town on the northeastern
frontier of Germany. I do not believe that the great clock of the cathedral
performed in a more passionless and methodical manner its daily routine, than did
its townsman Immanuel Kant. Rising in the morning, coffee-drinking, writing,
reading lectures, dining, walking, everything had its appointed time, and the
neighbors knew that it was exactly half-past three oclock when Immanuel
Kant stepped forth from his house in his grey tight-fitting coat with his Spanish
cane in his hand, and betook himself to the little linden avenue called after him to
this day the Philosophers Walk. Summer and winter he walked up and down it
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eight times, and when the weather was dull or heavy clouds prognosticated rain,
the townspeople beheld his servant, the old Lampe, trudging anxiously behind him
with a big umbrella under his arm, like an image of Providence.
What a strange contrast did this mans outward life present to his
destructive world-annihilating thoughts! In sooth, had the citizens of Konigsberg
had the least presentiment of the full significance of his ideas, they would have felt
a far more awful dread at the presence of this man than at the sight of an
executioner, who can but kill the body. But the worthy folk saw in him nothing
more than a Professor of Philosophy, and as he passed at his customary hour, they
greeted him in a friendly manner and set their watches by him.
But though Immanuel Kant, the arch-destroyer in the realm of thought, far
surpassed in terrorism Maximilian Robespierre, he had many similarities with the
latter, which induce a comparison between the two men. In the first place, we find
in both the same inexorable, keen, poesyless, sober integrity. We likewise find in
both the same talent of suspicion, only that in the one it manifested itself in the
direction of thought and was called criticism, whilst in the other it was directly
against mankind and was styled republican virtue. But both presented in the
highest degree the type of the narrow-minded citizen. Nature had destined them
for weighing out coffee and sugar, but fate decided they should weigh out other
things, and into the scales of the one it laid a king, into the scales of the other, a
God.... And they both gave the correct weight!clxiv
Kant proves to us that we know nothing about things as they are in and by
themselves, but that we have a knowledge of them only in so far as they are
reflected in our minds....clxv
Not without reason, therefore, did he compare his philosophy to the
method of Copernicus. Formerly, when men conceived the world as standing still
and the sun as revolving around it, astronomical calculations failed to agree
accurately, but when Copernicus made the sun stand still and the earth revolve
around it, behold! everything accorded admirably. So formerly reason, like the
sun, moved round the universe of phenomena, and sought to throw light upon it.
But Kant bade reason, the sun, stand still, and the universe of phenomena now
turns round, and is illuminated the moment it comes within the region of the
intellectual orb.clxvi
God, according to Kant, is a noumen. As a result of his argument, this
ideal and transcendental being, hitherto called God, is a mere fiction. It has arisen
from a natural illusion. Kant shows that we can know nothing regarding this
noumen, regarding God, and that all reasonable proof of His existence is
impossible. The words of Dante, Leave all hope behind! may be inscribed over
this portion of the Critique of Pure Reason.clxvii
But in the end Immanuel Kant relents and shows that he is not merely a
great philosopher but also a good man; he reflects, and half good-naturedly, half
ironically, he says: Old Lampe must have a God, otherwise the poor fellow can
never be happy. Now, man ought to be happy in this world; practical reason says
so; -- well, I am quite willing that practical reason should also guarantee the
existence of God. As the result of this argument, Kant distinguishes between the
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theoretical reason and the practical reason, and by means of the latter, as with a
magicians wand, he revivifies Deism which theoretical reason had killed.clxviii
Well, the function of Kant is to make systematic what Hume had done with
his criticism, that is, to do away with knowledge of the outer world and with God
-- in fact, to do away with God entirely. And he restores God only on the basis of
our subjective feeling. And that is why all the religious movements from this time
on have a new character. Because previously the idea of God is something which
different people think they know by various kinds of revelations, even when they
are wrong; but its about some Being who is out there.
From this time on, a new kind of subjectivism enters into philosophy and
religious currents. And now we begin to think about, well, later in this century we
have new thought: positive thinking, science of mind, mind over matter -- all these
things which are to come direct from this philosopher, not because his philosophy
itself sort of had direct influence -- of course, it did in many places -- but because
he was expressing what was going through the mind of people at that time: that is,
if you accept reason, you must follow him this far that we have no knowledge at all
of outward things, and the only knowledge comes through some kind of
subjectivism.
And as a result of this, the nineteenth century issues forth in a tremendous
outburst of new subjective philosophies. We will look at just one of these which in
itself is not particularly important, but it shows what happens when a philosopher
takes seriously what this Kant says.
Fichte
This philosopher is Fichte who lived about the same time as Kant, who died
a little bit later. F-I-C-H-T-E. This is what Heinrich Heine has to say about him.
The question proposed by Fichte is: What grounds have we for assuming
that our conceptions of objects correspond with objects external to us? And to this
question he offers the solution: All things have reality only in our mind.clxix
That idealism pursued to its ultimate consequences should end by denying
even the reality of matter, as Fichte did, seemed, to the great mass of the public,
to be carrying the joke too far. We Germans grew rather merry over the Fichtean
Ego.
His whole philosophy is concerning the Ego and what it, how it makes reality for
itself. We grew rather merry over the Fichtean Ego, which produced by its mere
thinking the whole external world. The laughter of our wits was increased through
a misapprehension that became too popular to permit my passing over it in
silence. The great mass really supposed that the Ego of Fichte was the Ego of
Johann Gottlieb Fichte, and that this individual Ego implied a negation of all other
existences. What an impertinence! exclaimed the worthy folk; this fellow does not
believe that we exist, we who are much more corpulent than himself, and who, as
burgomasters and bailiffs, are actually his superiors! The ladies inquired, Does he
not at least believe in the existence of his wife? No! And Madame Fichte suffers
this!
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The Ego of Fichte, however, is not the individual but the universal Ego,
the world-Ego awakened to self-consciousness. The Fichtean process of thought is
not the thinking act of an individual, of a certain person called Johann Gottlieb
Fichte; it is rather the universal thought manifesting itself to an individual.
As we say, It rains, It lightens, and so on; so Fichte ought not to say, I think,
but it thinks, the universal world-thought thinks in me.
In a parallel between the French Revolution and German philosophy I
once compared, more in jest than in earnest, Fichte to Napoleon. But there
are, in fact, certain remarkable analogies between them. After the Kantists
had accomplished their work of terrorism and destruction, Fichte appeared,
as Napoleon appeared after the Convention had demolished the whole past
by the help of another sort of Critique of Pure Reason. Napoleon and Fichte
represent the great inexorable Ego for which thought and action are one; and
the colossal structures raised by both men testify to a colossal will. But
through the boundlessness of this will their structures soon fall to the
ground, and both the Theory of Knowledge and the Empire crumble to
pieces and disappear as quickly as they were reared.
The Empire is now nothing more than matter of history, but the
commotion cause by the emperor in the world has not yet calmed down and from
this commotion our present Europe draws its vitality. It is the same with the
philosophy of Fichte; it has completely perished, but mens minds are still agitated
by the thoughts that found a voice in Fichte, and the after-effect of his teaching is
incalculable.clxx Why? Because now this subjectivism has entered into the
mainstream of Western thought.
Worship of Self
From this time on, a person who wished to remain in this mainstream of
thought, cannot think of anything, he cannot begin with anything but himself. And
as weve already seen, this is the age of fantastic egotism in all spheres: the artists,
the poets, the philosophers, the political people -- they come up with fantastic
claims for themselves, as though men had really come to believe that only I exist
and everything else is uncertain.
For example, even at the end of the century Gustave Courbet, the painter,
could say, I have no master; my master is myself. There is not, and never
has been any other painter other than myself.clxxi And you can talk to any
modern painter and hell tell you very similar things. Hes all so
preoccupied with his own genius, with what he can say, that he just has no,
nothing else exists for him. Its all bound up with his own, his own
conception of art and reality. A lot of artists think that way now; theyre very
proud. And he sort of expressed it in that way; its in accordance with these
ideals of Kant: he was the center of the universe. And so you can say that
once God has been dethroned in the eighteenth century, they look for a new
god and Kant gave the new god, the new god is... Student: Demonic?
Fr. S: No, well, just myself. Myself.
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And so, in the mainstream of Western thought, we see the beginning of the
formation of a new deity, the Self. The world previously went around God, and
now the world begins to go around the self. And this idea will go very deep into
Western man.
Therefore we come to this problem, if theres a new god, what happens to the
old God? But if there is this new deity being
formed, what happens to the old deity, that is, the God of Christianity, Who lived
on in some form even in Protestantism and the sects?
God is Dead
And we see in the early nineteenth century first appears this idea that God
is dead. And here we come to what we can call the first dogma of the new religion
that is being formed, the religion underlying this revolutionary dream, and this
dogma is called The Death of God. This phrase that God is dead, is a very
important concept; its used by all existentialists nowadays. The phrase death of
Godclxxii appears first, as far as we can tell, in the writings of Josef DeMaistre, the
great conservative who was defending Catholicism against the revolution, in the
early years of the nineteenth century. And he used this phrase to express the idea
[the enormity of the] of the rebellion against God in the French Revolution; and he
said that the people who are rebelling against society, against Christianity, against
the monarchy, against God -- they are actually based upon the philosophy that
God is dead, and want to make a new god. In other words, Christianity is dying
and the new religion is coming to birth. No one even particularly read this phrase.
It was not a influential page of his [DeMaistres] writings. So its not because they
read him, but they werent talking about it. Because this idea now begins to enter
into the consciousness of European man, the man of the apostasy. The idea that
God they used to have is now going away. They were being deprived of God.
And well see in this same Heine who was a sort of romantic revolutionist
how he used -- this is about 1833 -- this very phenomenon, which he sees still as a
process going on. A peculiar awe, a mysterious piety, he writes, forbids our
writing more today. Our heart is full of shuddering compassion: it is the old
Jehovah himself that is preparing for death. We have known Him so well from His
cradle in Egypt, where He was reared among the divine calves and crocodiles, the
sacred onions, ibises and cats. We have seen Him bid farewell to these companions
of his childhood and to the obelisks and sphinxes of his native Nile, to become in
Palestine a little god-king amidst a poor shepherd people, and to inhabit a templepalace of his own. We have seen him later coming into contact with AssyrianBabylonian civilization, renouncing his all-too-human passions, no longer giving
vent to fierce wrath and vengeance, at least no longer thundering at every trifle. We
have seen him migrate to Rome, the capital, where he abjures all national
prejudices and proclaims the celestial equality of all nations, and with such fine
phrases establishes an opposition to the old Jupiter, and intrigues ceaselessly till he
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attains supreme authority, and from the Capitol rules the city and the world, urban
et orbam. We have seen how, growing still more spiritualized, he becomes a loving
father, a universal friend of man, a benefactor of the world, a philanthropist; but all
this could avail him nothing!
Hear ye not the bells resounding? Kneel down. They are bringing the
sacraments to a dying god!clxxiii
Of course, this is the idea that enters now into these advanced minds who
sense very quickly the spirit of the times. What they mean to say is Christianity is
dying; a new religion is being born; and, to symbolize a new religion, of course, a
new god is being born. But the old God now must die; that is, Christianity, the
whole idea of Christianity, centering around the God of Christianity, is now dying
off.
Nietzsche
Later in the century this very idea attained its most powerful [maximum]
expression in a very important thinker for us whose name is Friedrich Nietzsche.
N-I-E-T-Z-S-C-H-E, who lived 18, I think, 54 to1900. The last ten years of his life
he was insane, [and] finally was found in the streets of Naples, I believe, crying,
I am Antichrist.clxxiv And they finally had to put him away. His sister and his
mother took care of him.
Nietzsche [had] a very romantic temperament very open to all kinds of
higher ideas, struggle, sentimental. In his youth he was a Protestant seminary
student and came to hate Christianity because he saw in it the principle of
weakness which, of course, was true because Luther had taken out of Christianity
the idea of struggle and left it something very weak which does not satisfy either
the mind or the heart, something which could be totally dry and rational on the one
hand, or totally sentimental on the other hand. Nietzsche could see no one who was
struggling, no great ascetics, no heroes of Christianity; and from that he concluded
that the whole of Christianity was a monstrous farce, a deception practiced upon
humanity that does not satisfy the reason which wants Truth; and this is full of
superstition because he is full of the idea you can only know what is rational and
therefore he rejects everything above the rational; on the other hand, it says
nothing to the heart because it becomes so watered down that it is feeble. And he
saw it was simply a way of keeping people quiet and satisfied with their lot and he
said that was for the herds.
And out of his rejection of Christianity he developed the idea that there are
going to be strong people who are going to be ruthless and barbarous and who are
going to take over whole countries and rule the world. Of course, Hitler
deliberately said, I am the Superman.clxxv [H]e brought out the sister of
Nietzsche, who was still alive 1933, and even got [her] to pose with him and to
say, Yes, you are the Superman my brother was talking about. And Hitler made
her one of the honored members of his realm because he was the Superman that
Nietzsche prophesied.
Of course, Nietzsche would have admired his ruthlessness, but would have
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considered him also part of this same herd mentality because he was looking for
some real, tremendous figure, some world leader who was completely ruthless,
completely strong, totally removed from all superstitions but a very noble person,
because Nietzsche himself was filled with the highest natural instincts for nobility
and struggle. He was a great student of Greek literature and one of his first books
talks about the Dionysian element in Greece -- because until his time people
regarded Greece as the home of the classical tradition of the Apollo -- and he said
no, that Greece was also filled with this striving, this romantic feeling which he
symbolized by Dionysius. And that was what he wanted, to be like Dionysius,
constantly striving, struggling for something higher.
Here he mentions the changing human institutions, the rise of capitalism,
different ideas in morality, enforce the faith you have in evolution. The concept
that an organism reacting to and acting upon a complex environment evolves is
now basic. All ideas and institutions are today thought to be primarily social
products functioning in social groups and spring from some necessity of effecting
some kind of adaptation between human nature and its environment. All the fields
of human interest have undergone this general sociologizing and psychologizing
tendency. The example of religion and theology will be a sufficient illustration.
Whereas the eighteenth century thought of religion and theology as a deductive
and demonstrable set of propositions, men now consider religion as primarily a
social product, a way of life springing from a social organization of mens religious
experiences, and theology as a rationalization of certain fundamental feelings and
experiences of human nature. We no longer prove the existence of God. We talk
rather of the meaning of God in human experience. We no longer demonstrate the
future life, we investigate the effect of the belief in immortality upon human
conduct.clxxvi
We see here very clearly that this is the next stage beyond Hume who
destroyed all these things; you can no longer believe in those old ideas and this is
the next stage which has nothing to do with scientific discovery -- this is simply
what is in the air. Once reason continues its march, it will end at its own suicide.
But his [Nietzsches] ideas are extremely powerful because he caught the
spirit of the times and proclaimed a new gospel which he puts in various forms but
most powerfully in his book called Thus Spake Zarathustra. It was after Zoroaster,
that is, a pagan and all this religion of fire-worship, based upon the teaching of
Zoroaster, whos the eighth century B.C or so. He uses this just as a literary device
to express a new prophet, who is speaking to the new mankind. He wrote a book
called Thus Spake Zarathustra which is, Zarathustra, he takes this ancient pagan,
actually he was a man who lived and became like a god with this religion,
Zoroasterism. And he used him like a prophet for this new religion of his. And
he was the one who took up this phrase that DeMaistre earlier had used that God
is dead.clxxvii
He says in this book, Nietzsche, N-I-E-T-Z-S-C-H-E, in his book Thus
Spake Zarathustra, this prophet, so-called
prophet says, There is no truth. There is no absolute state of affairs, no thing
in itself.clxxviii And this is what he calls Nihilism.
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Here we see quite clearly this idea, God is dead.clxxix He expressed this in
two ways: one by saying, God is dead, and one by saying, There is no truth.
These are two aspects of the same thing. And we see Hume and Kant destroyed
both God and the very idea of truth. Now there must be a new god, a new idea of
truth. He even says in one place, You talk always about truth, but what if there is
no truth? Then what sweet forbidden flowers grow beside the highway of life.clxxx
Which, of course, in our time weve tasted those sweet flowers. If there is no God,
theres no death, and it is no immortality, this is what happens. As
Nietzsche says, There is no truth. There is no absolute state of affairs, no thing
in itself. This alone is nihilism and of most extreme kind.clxxxi
Again he says, (asks the question) What does Nihilism mean? -- That the
highest values are losing their value. There is no goal. There is no answer to the
question Why?clxxxii All the questions which the human mind asks, Why am I
here?, Where does it all come from?, Whats this life about?, What does it
end in?, Is there life after death? And he says theres no answer. Theres nothing
out there. Theres no absolute. Theres no God. Theres no answer to your
questions.
Nihilism is this very spirit which animates the revolutionaries: turn
everything to nothing. Destroy; let nothing be left. Wipe it all out. And Nietzsche
is the philosopher of this.
He expresses quite poetically this phenomenon of the death of God. Kant was
very a rationalist, abstract and simply expressed what was in the minds of people
at that time, what you must think like if you are to be in the main tradition of
Europe.
Remember what Kant said? The thing in itself, we cant know what it is, that
reality out there. And he says there simply is no thing in itself. There is no truth.
There is no absolute. In other words, hes totally influenced by Hume. And he
[Nietzsche] sees that Kant does not solve the problem. But Nietzsche was a poet.
In fact, he wrote some very lovely poems; these are on the dark side of life, deep
mittern, midnight, and this loneliness, and so forth. And he expressed very
poetically this new reality in human life, in the life of the people of this apostasy.
He says, The death of God had begun to cast its first shadows over
Europe; and though the event itself is far too great, too remote, too much beyond
most peoples power of apprehension, for one to suppose it so much as the report
of it could have reached them, stillclxxxiii it is coming. And Nietzsche called
himself the firstlings, that is, he and others like him, the firstlings and
premature children of the coming century,clxxxiv which as he said was to be the
century of the
triumph of nihilism.clxxxv
He says, in another place -- because then most people were living ordinary
lives, theyre going to work in factories, and literature was flourishing and art and
music -- he said but this idea what he is describing, the death of God, when it
filters down to the common people, there will be an upheaval in the world such as
was never seen from the beginning until now, because the whole of society will
be overthrown.clxxxvi
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He puts in the mouth of one of his characters, a mad man, this idea of the
universe becoming upside down. The madman proclaims to the people in The
Joyful Wisdom, Nihilism, p. 72n: The Joyful Wisdom, #125] We have killed him
(God), you and I. We are all His murderers! But how have we done it? How were
we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the whole
horizon? What did we do when we loosened this earth from its sun? Whither does
it now move? Whither do we move? Away from all suns? Do we not dash on
unceasingly? Backwards, sideways, forwards, in all directions? Is there still an
above and below? Do we not stray as through infinite nothingness? Does not
empty space breathe upon us? Has it not become colder? Does not night come on
continually, darker and darker?clxxxvii
[The rest is from the Nietzsche lecture and the Question and Answer lecture ]
The thought was, he said, that the earth up until now has revolved around
the sun and all of a sudden its got loose and it begins to go out into outer space.
And people look around and they see that things begin to get darker and darker,
and begin to wonder where is up and where is down, whats right and whats
wrong. They begin to lose their moorings, and begin to get all mixed up. Then you
see that everything begins to get darker, as though the world is going out. Thats
the concept. Henceforth if theres no more God, then life becomes entirely
different. And frightful possibilities open up.
This is the world of todays mankind, that is, the ones who are still trying
to retain the main tradition of European history and thought.
Kafka
This can be very well seen in much of contemporary art.
[Franz] Kafkas an interesting person. Thereve been movies of his stories, but his
stories are very powerful because theyre understated, and theyre such very clear,
very nice German -- I started to read it in German -- very simple, straightforward
presented. No complicated language, in very clear language to present a fact which
is absolutely horrible. This Kafkas a very interesting writer because he writes all
these things in a very matter-of-fact way. Its not as though its something unusual.
For example, in Kafkas The Trial, someone is brought up for trial for a
crime he doesnt know what it is; Hes not guilty, he doesnt know whether he is
guilty or innocent. Hes announced to be, You go on trial tomorrow at 10
oclock. On trial? What did I do? We dont know. Just show up. And he goes
and he finds these very shadowy figures. Its all very mysterious. He doesnt know
who his judges are. He doesnt know what his crime is, who his witnesses against
him are, what he did. And this is presented in such a matter of fact way that it is as
though he is living in a nightmare. And it turns out that apparently just for existing
hes guilty. He doesnt know quite how to answer it and they kill him off
someplace. And its just this idea that theres no sense any more, no logic, just that,
because theres no more God, youre in a state of being hounded.
Or again, his story called Metamorphosis, its a autobiography of this
young man lives [who] with his mother, and he wakes up one morning and
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discovers that he is a big brown bug, you know -- six foot high, a big beetle. His
mother comes in and sees him and says, Oh, my, cant let you outside in that
shape. And this story is about how he is suffering because he
has become a beetle, and hes not bitter about it -- thats just the way it is: hes
become a beetle, and its very difficult to get along with his family.
And his mother, his familys sort of just hushing up the matter. Shhh. Dont
tell anybody. Wheres your son? Oh, hes resting today. Dont disturb him.
And so theyre all so embarrassed as they come and discover hes turned into a
beetle. And I think he finally ends up crawling and dying on the floor or
something. And its presented in such a matter-of-fact way that, and its so
horrible, this whole idea.
And you say, whats the point? The point is that, just like Nietzsche says,
reality became different now; now we dont know whether, are we human, are we
not human? Start teaching we come from apes and you begin to say that we have
ape-like nature in us; if we have an ape-like nature, we might have beetle-like
nature too. Before anything this lower animal thing begins to enter into our human
nature. If theres no more God, then our whole outlook on life becomes free. You
can be a beetle, you can be a man going to the stars. You can have advanced
civilization. Theres all kinds of new possibilities open up. This is what the more
recent writers, in the last twenty years or so, call the art of the absurd.
We also see someone like Eugene Ionesco, the Romanian playwright who
lived in Paris, who writes about people turning into rhinoceroses and this whole
surrealistic atmosphere.
Its all laid, like parodies, sort of allegories expressing how silly the human
situation becomes because theres no more God -- that life is ridiculous.
Or Beckett even: the whole play takes place in a garbage pail and theyre
Waiting for Godot, and theyre waiting for some kind of new revelation, and sit
there talking about how God is gone and so forth. Also Camus who talks about
rebellion as the only thing in (dawn?, doing?) leads to the reality of life and the
most logical thing for a man to do is to commit suicide.clxxxviii And he finally dies by
running his car into a tree.
And this whole world of contemporary art which is full of loneliness,
absurdity, we do not even know whats up, whats down, what Nietzsche says, we
become very cold and lonely. One man can be lost in an infinite universe. We dont
know whats going on, because the sun has gone out. God is gone. And of course,
if you dont believe in God, the world becomes a very miserable place. Indeed, you
dont know where youre going, what youre doing, because God gives meaning to
everything else in life.
Everything is Permitted
This first dogma introduced from the new religion -- its actually preparing
for the new religion, that is, the death of God, there is no God, there is no truth -has several consequences, corollaries. The first consequence is, as Nietzsche says:
There is no God: therefore everything is permitted. The same thing is said by
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Ivan Karamazov in Dostoevskys novel, If there is no immortality, everything is


permitted.clxxxix In fact well see that Nietzsche and Dostoyevsky were thinking
exactly on the same wave-length, had exactly the same ideas because they were
very, they were both in tune with the spirit of the times. But Dostoyevsky
approached it from the point of view of someone who knows Orthodoxy, and
Nietzsche approached it as the prophet of this new teaching, because he did not
know Christianity. And he considered Christianity to be a doctrine of weakness,
the herd mentality.
So, this is all bound up by: if God is gone, there is no truth, there is no
eternal life, all that Christian civilization lived on is now gone. Its only a matter of
time until its, because if faith is gone, everything built from that faith will
disappear. And therefore the revolution becomes logical.
So the first consequence is: everything is permitted, that is, revolution, any
kind of experiment in morality, government, art. In fact, well see in a later
[lecture] how the very concept of art suddenly starts to crumble. What is art
becomes filled with these very revolutionary, nihilistic ideas.
A New Age
The second consequence of the death of God is that there begins to be a
new age. Nietzsche says in 1884, It may be that I am the first to light upon an
idea which will divide the history of mankind in two. As a result, all who are
born after us belong to a higher history than any history hitherto.cxc Of course,
this is the age when God was still meaningful, when Christianity was still alive to
some degree. Theres some remnant of Christianity. And the new age when God
is removed as the center, when Christianity is no longer accepted, that is the age of
normal humanity and the age of revolution.
But as a matter of fact he wasnt so original as he thought because twelve
years before this Dostoyevsky already expressed exactly the same idea in the
thought of this Kirillov in The Possessed who said in one of his prophetic
moments:
Everything will be new... then they will divide history into two parts: from the
gorilla to the annihilation of God, and from the annihilation of God to the
transformation of the earth, and of man physically. cxci This is the idea of a new
paradise coming up. This is Kirillov, the one who thought he had to become god
in The Possessed..
Superman
And finally we come to this third consequence of this idea God is dead,
that is, there shall be annihilation of God, shall be the total transformation of the
earth and man physically. Which means Superman, the coming of the Superman.
Man is only something which is temporary and has to be superseded because hes
too weak. Hes going to become a Superman.
And what he means by Superman is someone who does not care about
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Christian morality. If you feel like killing someone, you kill. If you feel like doing
anything you please, you do it. If want to [go] conquering the world, you conquer
the world, blow people up, however you please, because theres now a new
morality. Of course, Communists did it even moreso.
And you can say, Thats anti-Christian, but they say were beyond
Christians: we have new morality, we have the morality of Nietzsche, that
everything in the past belongs to past history. Now theres a new transformation in
human nature and we are the ones who are first-fruits of this new transformation.
Therefore we can do whatever we want to. In order to challenge that, if they have
the power, they will squash it. If you want to challenge it, you have to convert
them to Christianity, and then they will see their mistake, repent, and a whole new
history begins.
And this is how Nietzsche expresses it: Shall we not ourselves have to
become gods merely to seem worthy of it (the death of God)?cxcii That is, the
fact that man has killed God.
...[I]f the old God is [dead, the] idea is that there must be a new God. Again
Zarathustra says, in Nietzsches book, Dead are all the gods. Now do we desire
the Superman to live.cxciii And Kirillov in The Possessed says: If there is no God,
then I am God.cxciv And Dostoyevsky distinguishes between the God-man Jesus
Christ and the man-god, the new being who is coming up from the earth to become
god. Zarathustra says again:
-I bring you a goal; I preach to you the Superman. Man is something to be
overcome. What have you done to overcome him? All things before you have
produced something beyond themselves, and would you be the ebb of this great
flood? Would you rather go back to the animal than transcend man? What is the
ape to man? A jest or a bitter shame. And just that shall man be to the Superman, a
jest or a bitter shame. You have traveled the way from worm to man, and much in
you is still worm.... Lo, I preach to you the Superman. The Superman is the
meaning of the earth.cxcv
At first this seems a fantastic idea. What does it mean,
Superman? You probably recall what Marx had to say about mankind being
changed by means of violence, that is, man himself will be changed to [be] made
fit for the new kingdom of Communism.
Contemporary writers such as Erich Kahler -talk about all the changes of
modern society, both physically and in ideas, are producing what he calls a
mutation, some kind of new man. And if, on top of that, we bear in mind the socalled scientific idea of evolution which in fact Nietzsche already believed in, we
see that this idea of the coming of a new kind of man, of Superman, is not at all
some kind of fantasy. It is a real idea which has been arrived at naturally, logically,
by Western man in his falling away from God and trying to find the new
religion.cxcvi
And the next generation comes along and because these ideas are not in a
vacuum, someone hears them they begin to act according to them. And of course
the answer to all these questions can be found in one writer, which is Dostoyevsky.
He was thinking about the exactly the same things as Nietzsche, at the same time
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but a little ahead of him, and he had already the answer. Therefore, if you want to
understand these problems very deeply, you read his books. First one is Crime and
Punishment which describes how someone thought he was going to become
Superman by killing off these two useless old ladies, or rather killing off one, and
taking money and making himself into a person whos preparing for the future.
And he discovers that he has a conscience, that its not so easy to do something
like that. But this is all a fantasy, its a fantasy world hes living in. The same thing
was done in 1920 or so, the famous case where two students....[Leopold and Loeb]
...[no?]velty and they began to live by it. And if you look at the kinds of
crimes which are being performed now, you will see that in the last twenty years
especially theres been a great increase in crimes which dont make any sense.
That is, people usually in the old days, they could solve murders, almost all
murders were solved in the old days because either there was a jealousy a man
killing his wife or vice-versa or a lover, or anger, or a fit or a fight in a bar. And
now the murders make no sense.
Theres a few of the old kind, but now theres a new kind of murder, and people
are just killing because for the fun of it. And that is very difficult to trace them
down. Now most murders are unsolved. They cant find who did it because theres
no connection, theres no logical connection. Its not a family member, its not
somebody who got mad at you, just somebody who felt like killing. And this kind
of crime is shockingly increasing, it shows societys in a very bad shape. And
some make a point of killing a whole set of people, twenty people or more.
So this is the new morality, Beyond Good and Evil.
Thats one of Nietzsches works. Therere several ideas here, one is beyond good
and evil because theres no more morality. The other one is the Superman. Since
theres no God, there must be a new man, a new god which is man. And
Dostoyevsky wrote about these questions also in his book called The Possessed or
The Demons in which he describes the mentality of people who were preparing to
make the Revolution in Russia. And some of them have very profound ideas. He
comes up with the idea that to make mankind happy, you must kill most people,
because theres too many people to make everybody happy. Therefore he
calculated in Russia, to make Russia a happy country you have to kill a hundred
million people. Solzhenitsyn figured out that that was exactly the number of
people that were killed because the Revolution lasts 65 years.
Thats what was happening in Cambodia when they
killed off right away in the first six months, they killed off two million people
because therere too many people, too many smart people. Therefore everybody
who had been past highschool had to be killed. Therefore all doctors, lawyers,
advanced people like that were all killed, except a few who escaped.
Student: Then once these ideas get in the air, its, its like a poison.
Fr. S: Thats right. Thats right. You can see from this Raskolnikov. Its very
realistic description Dostoyevsky makes in Crime and Punishment. This person is
possessed by these ideas.
And he doesnt have any, any -- hes not his own man. Hes pushed from one idea
to the next, and every times he comes across, all of a sudden he has a good impulse
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to give somebody some money -- its just out of whats ever left of Christianity in
him, because he had a pious mother and pious sister, some kind of Christianity in
his background. And he gives some money to somebody and later on he says, Oh,
you fool, you could have used that money to help your project and kill that old
lady or something, get an axe to kill the old lady. Hes always reproaching
himself because he has some good impulses. Hes possessed by these ideas, and
has no rest until he finally goes and performs the murder.
And thats [what happens] when we get someone like Raskolnikov from Crime
and Punishment who reads all these ideas, someone like Nietzsche says the
Superman is to come. We have to be overcoming mankind, mankind is too weak.
Actually if you compare -- todays the day of St. Anthony the Great [1980]-the answer to Nietzsche is Anthony the Great because Anthony the Great did
overcome mankind, his own human nature. He was like an angel on earth, and
these people, thinkers totally lost contact, because they lost Christianity, they lost
contact with these saints. And therefore they didnt realize that there is a whole
family of people who are in this process of overcoming human nature with the
grace of God. Not knowing that, he saw that men, human nature by itself is so
small and weak, that its not worth fighting for. Therefore it has to overcome but by
some other, some kind of external thing.
And they jumped upon this idea of evolution because that shows you man
was once a ape-like creature who is going to become something else. Hes going
to come to something higher.
And therefore the present stage is only intermediary stage, nothing particularly
important. Therefore if you kill a hundred million people, theres no particular
thing wrong with that. Or in Cambodia when the Communists took over, they
killed one third of the population. Nothing particularly wrong, its just an
experiment. And were heading for some higher state, therefore its justified. And
the only measuring stick is Christianity.
And with the doctrine of evolution, there is found what seems to be a
scientific foundation. This very complex question of evolution, which has many
aspects: scientific, philosophical, religious, and is one of the key ideas of our times,
which requires a great deal of concentration to get all the aspects of it straightened
out. Well have to examine precisely this doctrine of evolution to see what it gives
to modern man and give enough to criticize it quite thoroughly so as to see what
part it might place in the philosophy of the apostasy? Because this idea is, as it
were, a key to understanding the whole revolution, the whole idea of a new age
which is coming about through the chiliastic expectations of all these writers weve
been talking about. [In our next lecture] well talk about it in general terms and
also well talk about more specifically the one great prophet of evolutionism of our
times: who is Teilhard de Chardin, who is most symptomatic of all these chiliastic
currents which are going out in the world now.

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Lecture 11
EVOLUTION
Now we come to this key concept which is extremely important for
understanding the religious outlook of contemporary man -- the whole outlook,
both religious and secular. This idea is an extremely complex one and here we
can give only a sketchy outline of the problems involved in this question.
Since the time of Darwin and his Origin of the Species -- which came out in
1859 and was instantly accepted by many people and soon became very popular,
especially with people such as T. H. Huxley, Herbert Spencer, in Germany -- there
was [Ernst] Haeckel [1834-1919] who wrote The Riddle of the Universe and others
who popularized the ideas of Darwin and made evolution the very center of their
whole philosophy. It seems to explain everything. Of course, people like Nietzsche
picked it up and used it for his so-called spiritual prophecies. So that the people
who are in the main school of Western thought -- this rationalism carried as far as
you can take it -- accepted evolution. And to the present day one can say that it is a
central dogma of advanced thinkers, of people who are in harmony with the times.
But from the very beginning there were people who were arguing about this. There
was a Catholic thinker who believed in evolution but not in natural selection which
reduced Darwin to despair because the latter discovered that his idea cannot be
proved. But especially in the last ten to thirty years there have come out many
critical accounts of evolution from the more objective point of view. Most of the
books supporting evolution begin already with a certain premise which they
assume, the naturalistic outlook and so forth.
But now there is even a whole society in San Diego called the Scientific
Creationism Institute which has come out with several good books. They
themselves are religious, but they have several books which discuss evolution quite
objectively, not at all from any religious standpoint. They say there are two models
for understanding the universe: one is the evolution model and one is the creation
model. They take the evidence, the history of the earth, the geological layers and so
forth, and they try to see which model these fit. And they have discovered that
fewer adjustments have to be made if one follows the model of creation -- if there
was a God who created things in the beginning and if the earth is not billions of
years old but only some thousands of years old.
The evolutionary model, on the other hand, requires a good many
corrections which can be compared to the old Ptolemaic universe (vs.
Copernican) and which is proving quite cumbersome. In fact, some members of
this institute travel around to various universities and in the last year or two they
have held several debates before thousands of spectators at the University of
Tennessee, Texas.... Interest has been quite high; and those defending evolution
have not been able to give sound evidence in support of it and, in fact, on several
points were caught on their ignorance of several recent discoveries in
paleontology.
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There are then people who are very sophisticated and knowledgeable
defending both points of view. Here we wont even discuss the question of
atheistic evolution because it is obviously a philosophy of fools and people who
can believe, as Huxley said, that if you put a group of monkeys with typewriters
they will eventually give you the Encyclopedia Britannica, given enough time, if
not millions then billions of years according to the laws of chance. Someone
calculated this according to the laws of chance and found that in fact such a thing
would never happen. But anyone who can believe that can believe anything.
The more serious dispute is between theistic evolution, that God created the
world and then it evolved, and the Christian point of view. Here we must say that
the Fundamentalist point of view is incorrect in many instances because they dont
know how to interpret Scripture. They say, for example, that the Book of Genesis
must be understood literally and one cannot do this.
The Holy Fathers tell us which parts are literal and which parts are not.
The first misunderstanding which must be cleared away before even
discussing this question is one that causes many people to miss the point, and that
is that we must distinguish between evolution and variation. Variation is the
process by which the people who make various hybrids of peas, different kinds of
cats -- after fifty years of experimentation they come up with a new kind of cat
which is a combination of Siamese and Persian called the Himalayan cat which has
long hair like a Persian with the coloring of a Siamese. This had happened
accidentally, but it was never able to reproduce itself purely and only now after all
these years of experimentation have they come up with a new breed which breeds
true --just so there are different species of dogs, different kinds of plants and the
very races of men are all quite different: Pygmies, Hottentots, Chinese, Northern
Europeans -- all different kinds of human beings who came from one ancestor. And
so the question of variation is one thing.
There are undoubtedly many variations within one type or kind of creature
and these variations can be erected [expected?] by people on scientific principle.
But these variations never produce anything new; they only produce a different
kind of dog or cat or bean and people. In fact, this is more a proof against
evolution rather than for it because no one has ever been able to come up with a
new creature or new species. In fact, the different species -- and this term is itself
quite arbitrary -- for the most part are not able to bear offspring and, in the few
cases where they can and the mule is produced, it is not able itself to reproduce
itself. And St. Ambrose of Milan says: This is an example to you, O man, to stop
meddling in the ways of God. God means for each creature to be separate.cxcvii
During the period of the Enlightenment the view of nature, also called the
Enlightenment world-view, was quite stable. In fact just before this time the
Anglican Archbishop Usher calculated all the years given in the Old Testament and
came up with the idea that the world was created in the year 4004 B.C. Newton
believed this and the enlightened world-view was in favor of the idea that God in
six days created the world and then left it to develop itself and all the species were
just as we see them today; and the scientists of that time accepted that.
At the end of the period of Enlightenment, however, as the revolutionary
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fever began to come on, this very stable world-view began to breakdown and
already some scientists were coming up with more radical theories. At the end of
the eighteenth century already Erasmus Darwin, the grandfather of Charles
Darwin, came up with the hypothesis that all of life comes from one primordial
filament which is exactly what is meant today by the theory of evolution. It is not a
theory concerning only one species or kind of creature, but the theory that
everything comes from some primordial blob or filament, and that this developed
into the different kinds of creatures by transmutations.
This new kind of explanation, which he came up with then, is an attempt to
continue the spirit of the Enlightenment as utter rationalism and simplicity. As the
rationalism entered deeper into the mind, it was simpler to believe, he thought, to
explain life as coming from one single living filament instead of the more
complicated explanation that God gave being all at once to all different kinds of
creatures.
There was one naturalist, Lamarck, who had a definite evolutionary theory
just after this, but he had the idea that the changes necessary to account for the
evolving of one species into another were due to the inheritance of acquired
characteristics; and this could never be proved and has in fact been quite
disproved. And so the idea of evolution did not take hold.
But there was one important geologist at this period of the early nineteenth
century who gave a great impetus towards this acceptance of this idea of evolution;
and this was Charles Lyell who came up with the theory of Uniformitarianism, that
is, that all the changes we see in the earth today are not due to some kind of
catastrophes, a sudden flood or something similar, but that the processes we see
today have been operating in past centuries, past ages, from the beginning of the
world, as far as we can see. And therefore if we look at the Grand Canyon, we see
that the river has been eating away the canyon, and you can calculate by taking
into account how fast the water flows, how much water there is in it now, the
quality of the soil and so on, how long it must have taken to wear away that. And
Lyell thinks that if we assume that these processes were always going on at the
same rate -- this being very rational and given to calculation -- we can come up
with a uniform explanation of things; and, of course, there is no proof of this; this
is merely his hypothesis.
But this, together with the idea which was now gaining sympathy -- that
species evolve one into the other -- if you put these two together, you get the idea
that most likely the world is not just a few thousand years old like the Christians
seem to say, but it must be very many of thousands or even millions of years old
or even more. This begins the greater and greater age of the earth. But again this
was only a presupposition, a belief that the earth must be very old; it was not
proved.
But already this idea was sinking into the minds of men; and when Darwin
came up in 1859 with his book with the idea of natural selection as opposed to
Lamarck who said that the giraffe was evolved because a short-necked creature
stretched his neck to eat the higher leaves and his ancestors had a neck an inch
longer, the next one stretched a little more and gradually it became what we know
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today as a giraffe. This is against all scientific laws because such things dont
happen. An acquired characteristic cannot be inherited as, for example, when the
Chinese women had their feet bound their daughters were always born with normal
feet.
But Darwin came up with the idea that there were perhaps two longernecked creatures who survived because they had longer necks and they were
joined together because all the rest died off, because of some kind of disaster, and
their children did have longer necks because they were -- a change had occurred
within them, a mutation. This might have been a chance thing at first, but once
reproduction between two such like creatures has taken place it continues down
throughout the ages.
Of course, this is a guess because no one has observed such a thing to
happen. But this kind of a guess struck upon the consciousness of the people; they
were like tinder, all ready for it, and this was the spark. The idea sounded so
plausible; and the idea of evolution took hold -- not because it was proved.
As a matter of fact, the speculations of Darwin were based almost entirely
upon his observations, not of evolution, but of variation, because he wondered
when he was traveling in the Galapagos Islands why there were thirteen different
varieties of one kind of finch and thought that it was because there was one
original variety which had developed according to its environment. This is not
evolution but variation. From this, he jumped to the conclusion that if you keep
making small changes like that, eventually you will have a different species. The
problem in trying to prove this scientifically is that no one has ever observed these
larger changes; they have only observed changes within a type, within a species.
Let us look then at the so-called proofs of evolution to see what kind
there are. We are not going to try to disprove, but just to try to see the quality of
the proof they use; what is it that seems convincing to people who believe in
evolution.
There is a standard textbook of zoology used twenty years ago and it lists
a number of proofs. The first of these is called comparative morphology, that
is, man has arms, birds have wings, the fish have flippers -- they even have
convincing diagrams which make them look very much alike. Even the moth.
The birds have claws and we have fingers and they show how one might have
developed into the other. [Fr. S. is showing illustrations from p. 215 of General
Zoology by Storer] All creatures are shown to have a very similar structure and
the different structures are all in different phyla and gena, families and so on.
Of course, this is not a proof. This is very logical to one who believes in
evolution.
But, as the scientific creationists say, if you believe that God created
-------------------------------- ? basic master-plan of creation; that is, that all kinds of
creatures have a basic similarity in their plan. If you believe that God created
them, these pictures convince you that, yes, God created them in a sort of
gradation. If you believe that one evolved into the other, you look at the same
picture and say, yes, one evolved into the other. But there is no proof either for or
against evolution in this. In fact, people accept evolution on some other basis and
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then look at this, and this convinces them even more.


Secondly, there is comparative physiology: The tissue and fluids of
organisms show many basic similarities in physiological and chemical properties
that are close to the similarities in morphology. For example, from the
hemoglobin in vertebrate blood, a certain kind of oxyhemoglobin crystals can be
obtained; their crystalline structure... parallels that of vertebrate classification
which is based on body structure. Those of each species are distinct, but all from
[a] the one genus have some common characteristic. [Furthermore] those of all
birds have certain resemblances [but differ] different from crystals obtained
from the blood of mammals or reptiles.cxcviii
This is the same thing as in morphology. If you believe in creation, you say
that God made similar creatures with similar blood, and there is no problem. If you
believe in evolution, you say that one evolved into the other. In fact, [in] one of the
dating systems that has been devised from precipitations from blood, they see that
they are similar in each species, something in common [with] those in one genus
and quite distinct in birds, monkeys and so forth. And from this they make certain
calculations and decide how many years apart on the evolutionary scale these
different creatures are. As it happens, their calculations throw everything else off.
If this is to be accepted, other dating systems have to be changed; so it is still
controversial and it actually proves nothing because you can accept it either as a
proof of evolution or of Gods creation.
There is a third argument called comparative embryology. Textbooks like
this [General Zoology] used to have these classical pictures which -- baby fish,
salamander, turtle, chicken, pig, man -- and they all look very much alike and they
gradually evolve differently. Besides, you see that man has so-called gill-slits in
the embryo. Therefore, this is a remembrance of his ancestry. Ernst Haeckel and
the theory of recapitulation and biogenetic law: An individual organism in its
development (ontogeny) tends to recapitulate the stages passed through by its
ancestors (phylogeny).cxcix Today this theory is no longer accepted by
evolutionists, that the gill-slits are not gill-slits at all but they are just preparing for
what is to be developed in the neck of the human being. So this proof has been
pretty well discarded. Again they use the argument that similarity means proof,
which it in fact does not.
Another proof which used to be more powerful than it is today is that of
vestigial organs. There are certain things, like the appendix in man, which seem to
have no function now and therefore must be left over from a previous stage of
evolution when he was a monkey or sometime when he used this organ. But more
and more these vestigial organs are found to have a certain use; the appendix is
found to have some kind of glandular function; so this argument is also losing its
weight. And just because we dont know what a certain organ does, this does not
mean that it is left over from some lower form of life.
Then there are the arguments from paleontology, the study of fossils. Of
course, the first very convincing thing is the geological strata, as, for example, the
Grand Canyon where you see all kinds of strata; and the lower you get the more
primitive the creatures seem to be. And they date the strata by what kind of
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creatures are found in them. [Fr. S. is showing illustration from General Zoology,
p. 222 of strata in the Grand Canyon.]
There is a whole story how in the nineteenth century they discovered these
strata and how they determined which were older and which were younger; and
now they think they have a pretty elaborate system to tell which strata are older
and which are younger. But the whole dating system is rather circular because they
date -- since often these strata are upside-down -- they have to have certain
readjustments, just like the Ptolemaic system needed certain adjustments to make
epicycles, because the planets were not going around the earth uniformly. In the
same way, you must make adjustments when you find the strata are upside down.
You have to date them by the fossils in them. But how do you know that the fossils
in them are in the right order? You know because somewhere else the fossils were
in the right way, and you got the system from that. But as you look at it, it is a kind
of circular system; and you have to have faith that this actually corresponds to
reality.
But there are a number of flaws in this. For one thing the new creatures
come quite suddenly into each strata with no intermediary types. Besides this, as
research continues, they are finding animals in the strata which are not supposed to
be there, so that now in the pre-Cambrian level they are finding quite advanced
squid and all kinds of animals like that which should not be there because they
werent evolved until some hundred million years later. And you either have to
change your idea of the squids evolution or say this was an exception.
But in general there is no proof that these strata were laid down over
millions of years. And the creationists who talk about the Flood of Noah say that it
is equally conceivable that the Flood of Noah caused exactly the same thing
because the more advanced animals would be going on higher ground trying to get
away from the flood; the lower marine animals would obviously be the first to be
buried; and there would be little [few] remnants of man at all because man would
be trying to get on ships and other things to get away.
And there are only very particular conditions which cause a fossil to be left
at all. It has to be buried suddenly in a certain kind of mud which allows it to be
preserved. The whole idea of the gradualness of these phenomena is being called
more and more into question. In fact there is now proof that oil and coal and such
things can be made in an extremely short time in a matter of days or weeks. The
formation of fossils itself is very much in favor of some catastrophe.
The final thing which is against evolution is that it is hard to say that there
has ever been found a single thing which can be called an intermediary species.
In fact Darwin was extremely worried about this. He said, According to my
theory there should be a million intermediary species at least or more and I have
never found one. But we will wait until the fossil record is more complete.cc
And todays scientists say that the fossil record is extremely complete; and there
are more fossil species known than living species. And still there have not been
found more than a couple which might be interpreted as somehow being an
intermediary species. They will tell you about the pterodactyl -- this reptile with
wings, and say that this reptile is becoming a bird. But why cant you simply say
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this is a reptile with wings?


And there are certain fossils called index fossils which,
[when] seen in a certain strata, mean that strata cannot be any older or younger
than a certain date because that animal was extinct at that period. And they found
one recently that was supposed to be extinct 500 million years ago which is
swimming around in the ocean; and because it was thought to be an index fossil, it
threw off the whole thing; and that particular layer which was dated according to
this extinct fish is no longer correct.
And why is it that certain species evolve and others stay the same as they
were? There are many species found in the past which are exactly the same as
currently living species. And they have ideas that some are reprobate species that
dont go anywhere for some reason, and others are more progressive species since
they have the energy to go forward. But that is faith, not proof. And so, the fossil
species which have been preserved are just as distinct from each other as living
species.
Then we have something else which you find in all textbooks of evolution:
the horse and the elephant [General Zoology, pp. 226-228, illustrations]. And there
is a great deal of subjectivity involved, just as when you make the Neanderthal
man look bent over to resemble an ape. This is imagination, not scientific proof,
but something based on ones philosophical idea. And there is quite a bit of such
evidence which is either pretty much against evolution or shows that there is no
proof one way or the other. And there are some things which are quite remarkable
and are unable to be explained by evolution.
Just recently in the last two to three years, they discovered a place in Texas
where there are dinosaur tracks and right next to it human tracks; and in one place
the human tracks and the dinosaur tracks overlap, which show that these two
creatures were living at the same time. The Protestants made a movie about this
and show it as a proof against evolution. But one of the scientists who saw this -he was a creationist -- said, Well, this is very interesting, isnt it? And one man
who believed in evolution looked at it and said, I dont believe it. He has faith
that this didnt happen, that this dinosaur was extinct before man came; and
therefore it is impossible to have dinosaur and human tracks together. Or else you
make an epicycle in your system to provide some kind of explanation.
The final so-called proof of evolution is mutation. In fact the serious
scientist will tell you that all the rest is not really proof. But the one proof is
mutations. And in fact Randall who wrote this History of Modern Thought -- he
himself is an evolutionist -- says, At present biologists admit that we do not,
strictly speaking, know anything about the causes of the origins of new species; we
must fall back upon the scientific faith that they
occur because of chemical changes in the germ plasm.cci He then is
sophisticated enough to admit that this is a faith.
There are some like Dobzhansky who say that I have proved evolution
because I have made a new species in the laboratory. And so, after thirty years of
working on fruit flies who multiply very quickly, you can get a whole equivalent
of several hundred thousand years of human life in a few decades. He
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experimented by radiating fruit flies and finally came up with two who had
changes -- they had no wings or something -- and they were no longer able to
interbreed with the other kind of fruit fly. And this is his definition of species -that they cant interbreed; and therefore I have evolved a new species.
Well, in the first case, this was done under extremely artificial conditions
with radiation; and you have to have a new theory of radioactive waves from outer
space in order to justify it. And secondly, it is still a fruit fly. So it has no wings or
its purple instead of yellow; it is still a fruit fly and is basically no different from
any other fruit fly; it's simply another variety. So he has actually proved nothing.
Besides that, mutations are ninety-nine percent harmful; and all
experiments, including those [by scientists] who have worked on this for many
decades, all have provedunsuccessful to show any kind of real change from one
kind of creature into another, even the most primitive kind that reproduces itself
every ten days. If anything, the evidence in that sphere is for the ______?
[uniformitarianism? stability?] of species.
But in the end we have to say that there is no conclusive proof, scientific
proof, for evolution. And likewise there is not any conclusive proof against
evolution, because even though it might not seem too logical or too plausible
according to the evidence, still there is no proof that given a billion or trillion years
you might not produce from an amoeba a man or a monkey. A man is more
complicated because he has a soul. Who knows? If you have a completely
objective mind and dont consider for a moment what the Holy Fathers say, you
might think that perhaps its true, especially if there is a God. By chance, you
have no argument at all. The latter -- if one were to believe in chance -- requires
much more faith than to believe in God. In any case, the evidence we have just
examined makes sense to you according to what your philosophy is. And the
creationist philosophy requires less adjustment of the evidence. And so it is more
in accordance with simplistic and uniformitarian presuppositions of modern
science.
There is one more thing which has been used as a kind of proof of
evolution; and that is the dating system: radio-carbon, potassium-argon, uranium
decay, fluorine system and so on. These were all discovered in the present century,
some of them just recently. They say that this proves the world is really very old.
And in one textbook it says this is a revolution in dating because before that we
had only relative ideas of age and now we have absolute ideas.
You can test your potassium-argon and come up with the idea that a certain
rock is three billion, two billion years old; they allow a margin of error of about
ten percent. The fact of the matter is that the great age of the earth was already
known supposedly by scientists before these dating systems were developed. And
the dating systems already accepted [were based on] the presuppositions which
led to the idea that the world was already many millions if not billions of years
old. So they are not really revolutionary in dating; they simply fit into an already
accepted view. If these new dating systems had said that the world was only 5,000
years old, instead of 3 billion, scientists would not have been accepting them so
easily.
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Secondly, there are certain basic principles, presuppositions, which these


dating systems must have. The carbon-14 system, which traces the radio-active
decay of half-life of carbon-14 to carbon-12, requires: 1) that there is absolute
uniformity -- that the decay rate has always been the same for as long as the
process has been going on, 2) that there has been no contamination from outside
sources -- which they admit does happen, and 3) that the thing being dated has
been isolated, buried somewhere and nothing else has been touching it from
outside, no organic matter, and finally, 4) that there was no carbon-12 in the first
place, it was all carbon-14. All these things are assumptions; they are not proved.
Many people, even among non-evolutionists, will admit that carbon-14 is the
most reliable of all the dating systems; even the scientific creationists admit that it
has an accuracy back perhaps 2,000 years. It has been tested on certain articles
whose age has been determined and it has proved to be not too far off in most
cases. But beyond 2,000 or 3,000 years it becomes extremely dubious. And even
those adherents to this system admit that because the half-life of carbon-14 is 5,600
years or so, it cannot be accurate beyond 20,000 or 30,000 years at the most. The
other systems, potassium-argon, uranium and so forth claim to [have a] half-life of
one billion, three-hundred million years; and therefore when they talk about
improving the age of old rocks they use these systems.
The carbon-14 system is used only on organic matter, on the fossils
themselves; and potassium-argon and uranium systems on rocks. But the same
things are true: there must be uniformity throughout the billion years, no
contamination from outside. We must assume that it was all potassium in the
beginning before it decayed to argon; and all these things you have to take on
faith. And if you try to measure anything recent, say only a million years ago, and
you take this system with a half-life of a billion years, it is like trying to measure a
millimeter with a yard stick; and is not very accurate even assuming it is valid.
And there have been numerous cases when they have applied this system to new
rocks; and they give them a life of two billion years old. Therefore, the whole
thing is very shaky. And it requires that those billion years exist in the first place.
There are other kinds of tests which have been used at various times as, for
example, the rate at which sodium is dissolved into the oceans, the rate at which
various chemicals are discharged into the ocean. You measure the amount of the
elements there are now in the oceans, measure approximately how much of it goes
into the sea every year, and from that you come up with a guess of how old the
ocean must be; and probably the ocean is as old as the world. They did this with
sodium and discovered the world was, say, a billion years old. But it was found
that you get different answers depending on which element you use, ranging from
lead which gives a life rating of 150 years, others give 5,000 years, some 500
years, some 10 billion -- there is absolutely no uniformity.
There are other tests. For example, one tried the rate at which nickel
accumulates on the earth in meteorites. By taking approximately the amount of
nickel which accumulates in the earth from the meteorites every year and
projecting it into the past on the uniformitarian basis, and one person made a
calculation that if the earth was 5 billion years old according to the latest guess,
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there should be a layer of nickel on the earth 146 miles thick. There is another test,
the rate of helium which also gives some utterly fantastic result. Therefore, these
tests are very unsure; and some of them make it very dubious that the world could
be anything like that, 50 billion years old.
When you come down to it, it depends what your faith is. Some scientists
think the earth is very old because so far evolution is unthinkable unless the earth
is very old. And if you believe in evolution, you must believe the earth is very old,
since evolution does not work on any kind of a short scale. But as far as any
scientific proof, there is none whatsoever that the earth is 5 billion years old, or
7,000 years old -- it could be either. It depends on what kind of suppositions you
start with.
So evolution is not, in fact, a scientific problem; it is a philosophical
question. And we have to realize that the theory of evolution is acceptable to
certain scientists, certain people, philosophers, because they have been accepting
something like -- -? [the presuppositions, the way?] they have been prepared for it.
Here is another quote or two from this same Randall, who believed in
evolution, talking about how much faith enters into this. As we already read: At
present biologists admit that we do not strictly speaking know the causes of the
origin of new species. We must fall back on the faith that they occur because of
chemical changes in the germ plasm.ccii That is the scientific faith. And if you
question the scientist he will say, but anything else is unthinkable -- the anything
else meaning that God created the world 7,000 or 8,000 years ago.
Again he says, describing the effect of evolution on the world: In spite of
these difficulties, the beliefs of men today have become thoroughly permeated
with the concept of evolution. The great underlying notions and concepts that
meant so much to the eighteenth century, Nature and Reason and Utility, have
largely given way to a new set better expressing the ultimate intellectual ideas of
the Growing World. Many social factors conspired to popularize the idea of
development and its corollaries.cciii
Evolution has introduced a whole new scale of values.
Where for the eighteenth century the ideal was the rational, the natural, even the
primitive and unspoiled, for us the desirable is identified rather with the latter end
of the process of development, and our terms of praise are modern, up-to-date,
advanced, progressive. Just as much as the Enlightenment we tend to identify
what we approved with Nature, but for us it is not the rational order of nature, but
the culmination of an evolutionary process, which we take for our leverage in
existence. The eighteenth century could think of nothing worse than to call a man
than an unnatural enthusiast; we prefer to dub him an antiquated and outgrown
fossil. That age believed a theory if it were called rational, useful and natural; we
favor it if it is the most recent development. We had rather be modernists and
progressives than sound reasoners. It is perhaps an open question if in our new
scale of values we have not lost as much as we have gained.
...The idea of evolution, as it has finally come to be understood, has
reinforced the humanistic and naturalistic attitude.cciv
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The Orthodox Perspective


Now we must look to see what Orthodoxy says about the questions which
evolution talks about, where they touch upon philosophy and theology. According
to the theory of evolution, man is coming up from savagery and that is why
[General Zoology, p. 765 illus., perhaps other artistic versions] they show in books
the Cro-Magnon man, Neanderthal man -- obviously very savage, ready to beat
someone over the head and take his meat. This is obviously someones
imagination; it is not based upon the shape of the fossils or anything else.
If you believe that man came up from savagery then youll interpret all
past history in those terms. But according to
Orthodoxy man fell from paradise. In evolutionary philosophy there is no room for
a supernatural state of Adam. And those who want to keep both Christianity and
evolutionism, are forced to stick some kind of artificial paradise onto an ape-like
creature. These are obviously two different kinds of systems which cant be mixed.
What finally begins to happen is that the people who begin to do this, as
many Catholics have done in recent decades, they see that they got mixed up and
therefore they accept that evolution must be right and Christianity a myth; that the
fall of man is only some kind of cosmic immaturity, that the ape-like creatures
when they became man, they became some kind of naive human creature and
involved in some kind of guilt complex at the same time.
Besides, there was not just one pair but many, which is called polygenism -that man came from many different pairs. Once you give into the idea that we will
inspect it rationally -- on the basis of our rational naturalistic philosophy of the
modern philosophers -- then Christianity has to be put away someplace, or made...
...unexamined presuppositions or examined presuppositions. Anyway, it is a
realm of very relative truths. And in the teaching of Holy Fathers we have truths
which are revealed and truths which are given to us by God-inspired men.
So well look at a few of these things which Holy Fathers say. There is a
great deal of material about evolution, although you wouldnt think so. But if you
think through what evolution is philosophically and theologically and then look up
those questions in the Holy Fathers, there is a great deal of information to be
found in the writings of Holy Fathers. But we cant go into much of it right now.
Lets just have a few points to see if we can characterize evolution according to
patristic teaching.
First, we should make a note that the idea of creation is something which is
quite different from the world we see today;
its a whole different principle. And therefore, when we read in a modern Christian
evolutionist -- in fact, hes a noted conservative Greek theologian, [Panagiotis]
Trempelas, supposed to be scholastic, but anyway, hes a conservative -- he says
that it appears more glorious and divine-like and more in harmony with the
regular methods of God, which we daily see expressed in nature to have created the
various forms by evolutionary methods, Himself remaining the first and supreme
creative Cause of the secondary and mediate causes to which are owed the
development of the variety of species.ccv
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We will note here that oftentimes theologians are quite behind the times.
And in order to apologize for the scientific dogma, they often come up with things
which the scientists have already left behind, because the scientists are reading the
literature; and the theologians often are scared that theyre going to be oldfashioned or say something which is not in accordance with scientific opinion. So,
often a theologian can quite unconsciously fall for an evolutionary idea by not
thinking the whole thing through, by not having a thorough-going philosophy, and
not being aware of scientific evidence and scientific questions. But this very idea
that he sets forth that creation is supposed to be in accordance with the methods
which God uses all the time is certainly nothing patristic about it, because creation
is when the world came into being. And every kind of Holy Father who writes
about this will tell you that those first six days of creation were quite different from
anything else that ever happened in the history of the world.
And even Augustine -- who says that this whole thing is a mystery -- he
says we really cant even talk about it because its so different from our own
experience: its beyond us. And in the same way we simply cannot project presentday laws of nature back into the past and come up with the creation. Creation is
something different; its the beginning of all this and not the way it is now. Some
rather naive theologians try to say that the six days of creation can be infinitely
long periods; they can correspond to these different layers, you know, the
geological strata -- which, of course, is nonsense because the geological strata do
not come up with six easily identifiable layers, or five or four or anything of the
sort. Theres a whole lot of layers; and they simply do not correspond at all to six
days of creation. So that simply is a very weak kind of accomodation.
And as a matter of fact, if you look at the Holy Fathers, even though it
looks as though it might be terribly fundamentalistic to say it, they do with one
voice say that those days were twenty-four hours long. St. Ephraim the Syrian
even divides them into two days, two periods, twelve hours each. St.
Basil the Great says, the first day is called in Genesis not the first day, its called
one day because that is the one day by which God measured out the entire rest of
the creation; that is, this first day which he says was twenty-four hours long is
exactly the same day which is repeated in the rest of creation.
And if you think about it, there is nothing particularly difficult in that idea
because the creation of God is something totally outside our present knowledge,
and the accommodation of days to epochs doesnt make any sense; you cant fit
them together. And therefore, why do you need to have a day which is a thousand
years long or a million years long? You dont have a need for that.
And as a matter of fact, the Holy Fathers say again with one voice that the
creative acts of God are instantaneous. St. Basil the Great, St. Ambrose the Great,
St. Ephraim and many others say, when God creates, He says the word and it is,
faster than thought.
Theres a whole lot of quotations, but we just cant go
into [them]. And theres no one that says creation is slow. There are six days of
creation and the Holy Fathers explain this, not that this is some kind of long
process, not that man has been evolving from something lower -- that idea is totally
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foreign to any Holy Fathers -- but that the lower creatures came first in order to
prepare the realm for the higher creature who is man, who must have his kingdom
already created before he comes. And even St. Gregory the Theologian uses the
phrase that man was made by God on the sixth day and entered into the newly
created earth.ccvi
There was a whole teaching of Holy Fathers concerning the state of the
world and of Adam before the fall of Adam. Adam was immortal, or rather, as
Augustine says, he was not created immortal; he was created with the possibility
of being either mortal or immortal in the body; and he chose by his fall to be
mortal in the body.
The Creation before the fall of Adam was in a different state. About that the
Holy Fathers do not tell us very much; its really beyond us. But certain Holy
Fathers of the most contemplative sort, such as St. Gregory of Sinai, do describe
what is the state of paradise. And he says it is a state which exists now but has
become invisible to us, the same state that was then; and that it is placed between
corruption and incorruption so that when a tree falls in paradise, it does not rot
away, like we know, but is turned into the most fragrant kind of substance. Of
course, this is a hint which tells us this is beyond us, that theres some other kind
of law.
We know people who have been to paradise, you know, like St.
Euphrosynos, who went to paradise and brought back three apples. Remember
that story? St. Euphrosynos, the cook.
Hes in our kitchen, the patron of cooks. And these three apples were kept for a
little while; they divided them up and ate them; and they were very sweet. They
ate them like holy bread; which means theres something to do with matter, and
yet theres something different from matter. Of course, people now are speculating
about matter, anti-matter, what is the source of, root of matter -- they dont know
any more. And so why should we be surprised that theres some other different
kind of matter?
We know also that theres going to be a different body, a spiritual body. Our
resurrected body will be a different kind of matter than the one we know now. St.
Gregory the Sinaite says it will be like our present body, but without moisture and
without heaviness. And what that is we dont know because unless youve seen an
angel, you havent had experience of that. You dont. Our own bodies are filled
with precisely this heaviness.
So we do not have to make any kind of speculation about exactly what kind
of matter this is, because thats going to be revealed to us when we need to know
it, in the next life. But it is enough for us to know that paradise, the state of the
whole creation before the fall of Adam, was quite different from what we know.
You can speculate if you like whether any creature died before Adam. Adam
brought death into the world, so its very likely that no creature ever died before
Adam died, before Adam fell. But thats, the Holy Fathers dont talk about
particular points like that, or very little. So its not for us to speculate. All we know
is that world was quite different. And the law of nature we know now is the law of
nature which God gave when Adam fell; that is, when He said, Cursed be the
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earth for Thy sake. (Gen. 3:17) And, In pain thou shalt bring forth children.
(Gen. 3:16) Before the fall Eve was a virgin. And God made male and female
knowing man would fall and would need this means of reproducing.
But theres an element of great mystery in the state of creation before the fall
of Adam which we dont need to pry into because we are not interested in the
how of creation. We know that there was a creation of six days, and the Holy
Fathers say 24-hour days -- theres nothing surprising about that; that the acts
were instantaneous -- God wills and its done, He speaks and its done. That is,
since we believe in God Whos Almighty, there is no problem whatsoever. But
how it looked, how many species of creatures there were, whether there were all
the different kinds of cats we see or whether there were five basic types or only
families or only genera -- we have no idea, and its not important for us to know.
To add to the theory of evolution the idea of God, as some Christian
evolutionists do, gives no help at all. Or rather it gives only one help, that is, it gets
you out of this problem of finding out where everything came from in the first
place. Instead of a great kind of tapioca bowl of cosmic jelly or something, you
have God. Well, thats more clear, its a straight idea. If you have the tapioca jelly
in space someplace, its a very mystical and difficult to understand. If youre a
materialist, it makes sense to you, but thats purely on the basis of your prejudices.
But apart from that, given the beginning, God does not help the theory of evolution
at all. Because the difficulties in the theory are still there, no matter whether God is
behind it or not. So, theres no particular help from the idea of adding God to the
idea of evolution.
Another difference between this, the modern philosophy of evolution and
Orthodox teaching, is not only the past of man, but the future of mankind. If the
creation is one great filament which evolves and is transmuted into new species,
then we have one kind of philosophy of the future, which well discuss shortly
about the evolution of superman. If the creation is one great hierarchy of being,
then we can expect something different. We do not have to expect some kind of
changes, some kind of rising up from the lower to the higher.
Concerning the transmutability of species -- or kinds, according to the
word used in Genesis because species is a very arbitrary concept; we dont have
to take that as any kind of limit - - the Holy Fathers have a quite definite teaching.
And briefly well quote a few Holy Fathers about this.
St. Gregory of Nyssa, or rather, he quotes his sister Macrina on her deathbed
-- remember this conversation we heard about, when she was dying? She talks
about this very question, when shes opposing the idea of the transmigration of
souls, the pre-existence of souls which was taught by Origen. She says or rather St.
Gregory says through her: Those who would have it that the soul migrates into
natures divergent from each other seem to me to obliterate all natural distinctions,
to blend and confuse together in every possible respect the rational, the irrational,
the sentient and the insensate. If, that is, all these are to pass into each other with
no distinct natural order secluding them from mutual transition. To say that one and
the same soul on account of a particular environment of body is at one time a
rational and intellectual soul and that then it is caverned along with the reptiles, or
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herds with the birds, or is a beast of burden or a carnivorous one, or swims in the
deep, or even drops down to an insensate thing so as to strike out roots and become
a complete tree producing buds on branches and from those buds a flower or a
thorn or a fruit edible or noxious -- to say this is nothing short of making all things
the same, and believing that one single nature runs through all beings, that there is
a connection between them which blends and confuses hopelessly all the marks by
which one could be distinguished from another.ccvii
Well, that shows very clearly the Holy Fathers believed in a whole
hierarchy of beings. It is not, as Erasmus Darwin wanted to have it, one single
filament which runs through all beings -- there are distinct natures.
And if we look at one of the basic works of Orthodox theology which is the
On the Orthodox Faith of St. John of Damascus, we find that before he gives us
On the Orthodox Faith, he has two books before it which he says are all part of a
whole. One is On the Heresies which tells exactly what the heretics
believed, and why we do not believe that. And the first part of this great work
which is one of the standard books of Orthodox theology; its called On
Philosophy. The whole thing is called The Fount of Knowledge. He begins with
philosophical chapters in which he goes into such things as what is knowledge?,
what is philosophy?, what is being?, what is substance?, what is accident?,
what is species?, what is genus?, what are differences?, what are properties,
predicates? And the whole thing is based on the idea that reality is quite distinctly
divided up into different beings, each of which has its own essence, its own nature,
not one is confused with the other. There is a distinct hierarchy of beings, and he
said he thinks you have to read this before you can read his book on Orthodox
theology, The Orthodox Faith.
Student: Whos that is by?
Fr. S: St. John of Damascus, in the eighth century.
You should know there are a number of basic books, by the way, by
Orthodox Fathers on this very question. Theres one book called Hexaemeron,
that is, the Six Days, commentaries on the six days of Genesis. Theres one by St.
Basil the Great in the East, one by St. Ambrose the Great in the West, and other
lesser ones. There are commentaries on the Book of Genesis by St. John
Chrysostom, St. Ephraim the Syrian, who also wrote treatises on Adam and Eve.
And there are many writings on these subjects scattered in the writings of many
other Holy Fathers. St. John of Kronstadt also wrote a Hexaemeron, about six
days of creation.
These books are very inspiring, by the way, because they are not mere
abstract knowledge; they very are full of a practical wisdom. He uses a love of
nature, and the splendor of Gods creation, to give an example for us human
beings, and many quaint little examples of how we should imitate the dove, in its
love for its fellow, for its mate and so forth, how we should be like the wiser
animals and not be like the dumber animals. For example, we can take an example
from our squirrels. Theyre very greedy. Were not supposed to be like that. Were
supposed to be gentle like the deer. We have all around us examples like that.
We can see if there are one or two quotes from St. Basil; for example, he
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says, Let the earth bring forth. This brief command was immediately mighty
Nature, an elaborate system which brought to perfection more swiftly than our
thought the countless properties of plants.ccviii Elsewhere he says when the trees,
Let the earth bring forth plants, he says Instantly, swifter than thought, mighty
forests arose, and all the different kinds of plants.ccix
And here he has a quote on this very question of the succession of
creatures one after the other. He quotes Genesis:
Let the earth bring forth living creatures. This is from the 9th Homily on
Hexaemeron. Cattle and wild beasts and crawling creatures. And St. Basil says to
this: Consider the Word of God moving through all creation, having begun at that
time, active up to the present and efficacious until the end, even to the
consummation of the world. As a ball when pushed by someone and then meeting
with a slope is borne downward by its own shape and inclination of the ground and
does not stop before some level surface receives it, so too the nature of existing
objects, set in motion by one command, passes through creation without change,
by generation and destruction, preserving the succession of the species through
resemblance until it reaches the very end. It begets a horse as a successor of a
horse, a lion of a lion, and an eagle of an eagle. And it continues to preserve each
of the animals by uninterrupted successions until the consummation of the
universe. No length of time causes the specific characteristics of the animals to be
corrupted or extinct. But, as if established just
recently, nature, ever fresh, moves along with time.ccx
So that is a statement not of science but of philosophy. This is the way God
created creatures, and each one has a certain seed, a certain nature and transmits
that to its offspring. When there is some kind of exception, then its a monstrosity;
its an exception. And this does not invalidate the principle of the natures of
things, each one of which is quite distinct from the other. If we do not understand
the whole variety of Gods creation, thats our fault, not Gods.
St. Ambrose has a number of quotations on the same line. His
Hexaemeron is very close to St. Basils in spirit.
And now we have another quote from St. Gregory [of Nyssa] which shows a
very interesting [thing], that there was in fact a theory something like evolution in
ancient times, although, of course, not at all like the present theory. He is
combatting the idea of the pre-existence of souls. Theres a second idea which is
the opposite idea. St. John of Damascus whose writings, his On the Orthodox
Faith sums up the theological writings of the earlier Fathers. And he has one
statement which says: Let us not think like Origen and other blasphemers that
God created the soul and the body of man at different times. He created them
simultaneously.ccxi
But if we read the account of Genesis, it says rightly, [if I be?] correct, He
made the body and breathed into it a living soul. And in fact, the Christian
evolutionists said, Aha, perfect! That means man was something first and then he
became human.
Let us see what St. Gregory of Nyssa says about this. Some of those before
our time who have dealt with the question of principles think it right to say that
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souls have a previous existence as a people and a society of their own. This is
Origens idea that the soul fell down into our world. And that among them also
there are standards of vice and of virtue, and that the soul there, which abides in
goodness, remains without experience of conjunction with the body. But if it does
depart from its communion with good, it falls down to this lower life and so comes
to be in a body. Others on the contrary, marking the order of the making of man as
stated by Moses, say that the soul is second to the body in order of time, since God
first took dust from the earth and formed man, and then animated the being thus
formed by his breath. And by this argument they prove that the flesh is more noble
than the soul, that which was previously formed than that which was afterwards
infused into it. For they say that the soul was made for the body, that the thing
formed might not be without breath and motion, and that everything that is made
for something else is surely less precious than that for which it is made. As the
Gospel tells us that the soul is more than the meat and the body than raiment.
Because the latter things exist for the sake of the former.ccxii
Surely this is very close, although its in a different climate of ideas, still
its very close to the modern evolutionists idea that matter indeed is the first
thing and the soul is secondary.
Now he goes on to discuss the second one, after getting rid of, after
disposing of the idea of Origen that the souls preexist.
Nor again are we in our doctrine to begin by making up man like a clay
figure, and to say that the soul came into being for the sake of this; for surely in
that case the intellectual nature would be shown to be less precious than the clay
figure. But as man is one, the being consisting of soul and body, we are to suppose
that the beginning of his existence is one common to both parts, so that he should
not be found to be antecedent and posterior to himself, if the bodily element were
first in point of time, and the other were a later addition. For we are to say that in
the power of Gods foreknowledge, according to the doctrine laid down earlier in
our discourse, all the fullness of human nature had preexistence. And to this the
prophetic writing bears witness which says that God knoweth all things before they
be. And in the creation of individuals, not to place the one element before the
other: neither the soul before the body, nor the contrary, that
man may not be at strife against himself by being divided by the difference in
point of time. For as our nature is conceived as twofold, according to the
apostolic teachings, made up of the visible man and the hidden man, if the one
came first and the other supervened, the power of Him that made us would be
shown to be in some way imperfect, as not being completely sufficient for the
whole task at once, but dividing the work and busying himself with each of the
halves in turn.ccxiii
Of course the whole reason for an idea of evolution is you do not believe
that God is powerful enough to create the whole world by His Word. You are
trying to help Him out by letting(vaying?) Nature do most of the creating.
There are many other quotes we could have, but we have no time. The Holy
Fathers talk quite in detail about the question of what it means that Adam was
created from the dust. Some people take the fact that St. Athanasius the Great says
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in one of his writings, Adam was created from the dust in the same way that
every man is created from the dust.ccxiv And they say Aha, that means that Adam
could have been descended from some other creature. He didnt need to be taken
from literal dust. You dont have to take that part of Genesis literally. But it so
happens this very point is discussed in great detail by many Holy Fathers. And
they come up with many different ways of expressing it, and makes it absolutely
clear that Adam and Cain are two different kinds of people. Cain was born of man
and Adam had no father. Adam was born of the, was created of the dust, directly by
the hand of Christ. And many Fathers taught the same: Cyril of Jerusalem, St. John
Damascene, St. -- many of the Holy Fathers.
So, when we come to questions such as what is to be interpreted literally in
Genesis, what is to be interpreted figuratively or allegorically, the Holy Fathers set
forth for us very clearly. And St. John Chrysostom in his commentary even points
out in certain passages exactly what is figurative, what is literal. And he says those
who try to make it all allegory are trying to destroy our faith.
St. Gregory the Theologian -- who was noted for being very elevated in his
interpretations -- [says concerning] the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, I
think this is a way of saying Contemplation. ccxv Therefore, some people say,
Aha, it means he doesnt believe in Paradise. He doesnt believe that there was
an actual tree. Of course, we are told that: the tree is not a real tree.
But a thousand years after him, there was a great Orthodox theologian, St.
Gregory Palamas. And he was confronted by Barlaam, the Latinizer. And Barlaam
said that the uncreated light was not real divine light, uncreated light was some
created light. It is only symbolically called divine. And this St. Gregory applied to
him:
Do we believe because St. Gregory the Theologian says the Tree of the
Knowledge of Good and Evil means Contemplation, do we believe that he meant
to say that there was no tree? Of course not; there was a tree, and he believed it.
In the same way St. Maximus the Confessor said Moses is a symbol of
contemplation, Elijah a symbol of something else. Does that mean that Moses and
Elijah do not exist?ccxvi
And of course, in reading the Holy Fathers we have to know both the fact
that one Father comments on the other, and that it is not such an easy thing to find
what is literal and what is not literal. One has to read much and get the whole
context in which they are speaking in order to see exactly how one is to interpret
them. And of course for the most part the things of the book of Genesis are in two
levels. That is, there are literal truths, and there are also -- many times for our
spiritual benefit -- some kind of spiritual truths. In fact, there are whole systems of
three or four levels of meaning, but [it is] sufficient for us that there are many
deeper meanings in the Scriptures; and very seldom is the literal meaning
destroyed. Only occasionally.
Well, enough for that subject. We can characterize in general evolution in its
philosophical aspect as a naturalistic heresy which comes closest of all to being the
opposite of the ancient heresy of the pre-existence of souls. That is, that theres one
kind of soul nature which runs throughout creation; evolution is the idea theres
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one kind of material being which runs throughout creation. And the same, both of
them destroy the idea of the hierarchy of beings and the distinct natures of each.
This was a heresy which was actually lacking in ancient times. Usually Orthodoxy
is midway between two errors: between the doing away with the divine nature of
Arius, and the doing away with the human nature of Monophysitism. And in this
particular case the other heresy was not incarnated in ancient times. And it waited
for modern times to make this particular error. But well see now much more
clearly this philosophical side of evolutionism when we look at a few of the socalled Christian evolutionists.
Question: Are there any Orthodox scholars?
Fr. S: Oh, afraid there are. Well look at one or two now.
In the last few years thereve been articles -- small articles, some longer articles -in some of the Orthodox press on this very question of evolution. And in fact the
Greek Archdiocese newpaper, The Orthodox Observer, printed several articles
which are quite surprising in that they are so far away from Orthodoxy.
One of these articles in the Greek newspaper says that evolution cannot
really be a heresy because there are many Christians who believe in it. And it
quotes two. These are Lecomte du Nouy and Teilhard de Chardin. So well look
for a moment at Lecomte du Nouy; hes supposed to be a Christian who believes in
evolution; therefore it cant be a heresy.
He was a widely-known respected scientist, mathemetician and
physiologist, who has written several books on scientific philososphy. He was
born in Paris in 1883. He wrote a popular book called Human Destiny wherein he
sets forth his conclusions about evolution. It turns out hes not too much of a
Christian because he believed that man created his own God, who is actually a
formidable fiction.ccxvii He is very patronizing towards Christianity, and he
believes that Christianity has been misunderstood and misinterpreted, but it is still
good for the masses, and is a useful tool for mans continuing evolution on a
moral and ethical plane. It has no objective, absolute truth, of course. Christ is not
God, but Hes perfect man. But Christian tradition somehow helps to educate the
race towards further evolution. He says that, We are now at the beginning of
the transformations which will end in the superior race....ccxviii Evolution
continues in our time, no longer on the physiological or anatomical plane, but on
the spiritual and moral plane. We are at the dawn of a new phase of evolution.ccxix
[emphasis in original]
Of course, it is difficult enough to find scientific evidence of evolution; its
impossible to find evidence for spiritual evolution. But he believes in it. He says,
Our conclusions are identical with those expressed in the second chapter of
Genesis, provided that this chapter is interpreted in a new way and considered as
the highly symbolical expression of a truth which is intuitively perceived by its
redactor or by the sages who communicated it to him.ccxx
By the way Holy Fathers say that Moses heard from God. And one Father
even says from the Archangel Gabriel, he received a revelation concerning -- in
fact St. John Chrysostom says the book of Genesis is a prophecy of the past; that
is, he saw an exalted vision of what it was in the beginning. And St. Isaac the
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Syrian also says that in his state of ecstasy...


St. Isaac...describes how, in men of the highest spirituallife, the soul can rise to a
vision of the beginning of things. Describing how such a soul is enraptured at the
thought of the future age of incorruption, St. Isaac writes: And from this one is
already exalted in his mind to that which preceded the composition (making) of the
world, when there was no creature, nor heaven , nor earth, nor angels, nothing of
that which was brought into being, and to how God, solely by His good will,
suddenly borught everything from non-being into being, and
everything stood before Him in perfection. ccxxi
...into revelation, to vision when a holy man is in a very, ascends to a vision
of God.
Messr. Lecomte du Nouy continues: Let us try...to analyze the sacred text
as though it were a highly symbolical and
cryptic description of scientific truths.ccxxii It is, of course, extremely patronizing
that this poor Moses tried his best to get a scientific picture of the way things
were, and all he came up with is these sort of images. He explains, this Lecomte
du Nouy, that,
The omnipotence of God is manifested by the fact that man, who is descended
from the marine worms, is today capable of conceiving the future existence of a
superior being and of wanting to be his ancestor. Christ brings us the proof that this
is not an unrealizable dream, but an accessible ideal.ccxxiii That is, Christ is some
kind of superman, and this is somehow the ideal to which man now is evolving.
For this man, we have a new criterion of good and evil which is absolute with
respect to Man. Good is that which contributes to the course of ascending
evolution.... Evil is that which opposes evolution.... The respect of human
personality is based on the recognition of mans dignity as a worker for evolution,
as a collaborator with God.ccxxiv The only goal of man should be the attainment of
human dignity with all its implications.ccxxv
If you can call this man a Christian, its very surprising.
He goes on to describe the fact that there are thinking men in all religions, and
therefore all religions have a unique inspiration, a spiritual kinship, an original
identity. He says, The unity of religions must be sought in that which is divine,
namely, universal in man.ccxxvi No matter what our religion, we are all like people
at the bottom of a valley who seek to climb a snowy peak that dominates the
others. We all have our eyes fixed on the same goal,... Unfortunately we differ on
what road to take.... [O]ne day, provided they never stop ascending, they must all
meet at the top of the mountain...the road to it matters little.ccxxvii Of course, the
top of the mountain is not the salvation of the soul; its not the kingdom of heaven;
its precisely this chiliastic new age.
Well, thats one so-called Christian evolutionist. Hes not very Christian.
Hes in fact a deist.
Theres a second Christian evolutionist. Well, we can make a few
miscellaneous comments, taken from this Greek newspaper also. In another issue
of The Orthodox Observer, this Greek newspaper, Greek Orthodox official
newspaper, theres a priest -- in fact a priest who lives in San Francisco, who once
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visited our bookshop -- Fr. Anthony Kosturos. There were two priests came in.
One had never heard of The Philokalia and a second had never read it but had
someone recommended it to him as a good book. He has a question column, and
he received a question: If Adam and Eve were the first humans, where did their
son Cain get his wife? Does our Church shed any light on this question? Fr.
Kosturos replies: Mans origin is too far back in history for any person or group
to know how man began. What is Genesis for? Science is still groping for
answers. The word Adam denotes earth. The word Eve, denotes life.
Generally, and only generally, our traditional theologians take the view that all of
us stem from one male and one female.... But There are others who feel that
humankind appeared in clusters, a few here and a few there.... [Our Churchs
traditional approach theorizes that mankind emanates from one couple...{Kosturas
insert}] No theologian has the definitive answer on the subject of mans origin and
his development.... The dawn of human history is a mystery.ccxxviii
And later, in another answer to a similar question, he says, Perhaps there
are many Adams and Eves who appeared concurrently in different areas, and then
met. How man was created and how man procreated initially is a mystery. Dont
let anyone tell you otherwise. Our Church gives you the opportunity to ponder the
subjects you mention and come up with your own speculation about them.ccxxix
The answer to the question is very easy: Because Adam and Eve had many
children who are not mentioned in Genesis. This is only the basic outline of the
story. And, the second, the question was answered in a different column in the
same newspaper by a different priest. And then they asked a further question,
How is it that Cain could marry his own sister? Isnt this against the laws of the
Orthodox Church? Of course, this is the beginning of time, this is in a different
law; theyre not living under the law we have now. In those days people lived to
be nine hundred years old. Obviously humanity was quite different from what we
know it, even physically. And if its surprising -- no, it shouldnt be surprising
because the world was at its beginning then.
Well, well look for a few minutes at a few recent Catholic speculations on
this question because they ask these questions weve already looked at a little bit,
but you can see what kind of answers they give. Theres one theologian, Karl
Rahner, Jesuit, who comes up with a new, the theory of polygenesis, that is, that
there were many Adams and Eves. He asks two questions:
How is evolution compatible with the doctrine of Adam's
preternatural gifts?ccxxx He was immortal. And Can we seriously think that the
first man to evolve was capable of the first sin...? He says, Scientists prefer to
conceive hominization, that is, the making of man, as having taken place in
many individuals -- a population -- rather than in a single pair. Well, some
scientists think and some dont. It is in the first group of recognizable men, that is,
original man which committed the first transgression. He says, Grace could be
offered to the original group and, upon being rejected by that groups free and yet
mutually-influencing choice, be lost to the whole of succeeding humanity.ccxxxi
He says, In the first [emphasis Rahners] man or group such as
paleontology reveals to us, how could there have been such a degree of freedom
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sufficiently developed to have made possible such a fateful choice as original sin?
How can we attempt to reconcile the supernatural or preternatural paradisesituation of Adam (individual or group) with what we know of the origins of the
biological, anthropological, cultural world?ccxxxii
And he answers his question by saying, It is not easy to determine precisely
where and when an earthly creature actually became spirit and thus free.... We may
serenely reckon with the fact that original sin really happened, but at a moment
which cannot be more accurately determined. It was sometime within a fairly
long time-span during which many individuals may have been already existing and
capable of performing the guilty act simultaneously,ccxxxiii so to speak. In other
words the whole thing becomes very vague. Obviously the next generation of
thinkers is going to do away with some of this double talk. And so theres another
book, by a Dutch Jesuit, [Stephanus] Trooster, called Evolution and the Doctrine
of Original Sin. And he sets off forthrightly, Those who take the scientific
doctrine of evolution seriously can no longer accept (the) traditional presentation.
So we must find an interpretation that is relevant to our times.ccxxxiv The
proponents of the doctrine of evolution, he says, visualize mankind as a reality
which, in the course of history, only very gradually matured to achieve a degree of
self-realization. Its earliest emergence must be conceived of as fumbling
transitional forms appearing next to extremely primitive levels of human existence.
Such primitive intermediate forms of human life still must have been intimately
fused with their prehistoric animal state.... But in this evolutionary theory there is
no room for a paradisaical existence of this prehistoric man. [emphasis in
Christian Evolutionism] To place an extremely gifted and highly privileged
spiritual man at the beginning of human life on earth appears in complete
contradiction to modern scientific thought on this matter.ccxxxv Which of course is
true.
Acceptance of the modern viewpoint, however, eliminates the possibility
of accounting for the genesis of evil in the world on the basis of sin committed by
the first man. After all, how could so primitive a human being have been in a
position to refuse Gods offer of salvation; how could such a primitive being have
been capable of a breach of covenant with God?ccxxxvi
It turns out that he decides that the Fall of man is nothing but what he calls
cosmic immaturity. Adam actually is not one man; its Everyman.ccxxxvii And
the book of Genesis is
an idealized image... [emph. in Chr. Ev.] of a world without sin, even
though the author of Genesis knows quite well it does not correspond to
reality.ccxxxviii He does not mean to say that the original state of grace of Adam
and Eve in all its purity was once upon a time an actual reality in the history of
mankind.ccxxxix Of course, if you believe in evolution, it makes no sense to talk
about Paradise. And youre only fooling yourself trying to combine these two
different forms of thinking.
The Catholics in the past have had some problems about knowing when man
began, if you accept evolution. And there are different theories depending on
whether you think -- I dont know whats allowed now -- but in the old days you
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were not allowed to believe that mans soul could evolve from matter. You had to
believe that the man was given a soul at a particular moment. At that moment he
became man, and therefore he is no longer subject to all those laws of evolution.
Obviously this is, you know, sticking in one of these epicycles again to make the
theory correspond to your own beliefs. Either you believe in evolution, in which
case man is a very primitive creature which came from the beasts -- its a definite
view, and the textbooks on evolution will tell you that, that man still has the savage
inside of him, and all the pictures show him evolving from the monkey-like
creature -- or else you believe that man descended from a being who was greater
than we are now, who was actually perfect man in his own way, was not subject to
corruption -- the Holy Fathers even tell us -- did not go to the bathroom, did not
have to eat in order to live, he had the Tree of Life; but that it was not the same
way we have now, to live in order to eat.
In fact, St. Seraphim has a whole section on the state of
Adam, in his Conversation with Motovilov, how he was not subject to being
injured or hurt; in other words, he was quite invulnerable to the elements, could
not be drowned or anything like that. Its interesting that even in the Middle
Ages, Thomas
Aquinas, they asked precisely questions like this for him to solve: What was the
state, did he go to the bathroom?, how was it that he could not be harmed? And he
has elaborate explanations. First of all, he does go to the bathroom because we
cannot believe that he would be of a different material than we are now. And
second, that he was never harmed, and could not be drowned, not because it was
impossible, but because God arranged to take all the boulders out of the way, never
to have the stream go too high. In other words, He arranged the world just correct
so that Adam walked very carefully and never happened to get hurt.
But Orthodoxy believes, as we read in the very first chapter of Abba
Dorotheus, he sets forth for us there the image of Adam, the first man, to give us
an inspiration of what we have to strive back for; that is, our nature is immortal.
We are meant to live eternally in the body; and thats the way it was in the
beginning. And only after falling did we lose that nature and that blessed state in
which Adam was beholding God.
And according to Orthodoxy, the state of man in Paradise is his nature. Our
nature now is changed; then we were immortal. Now we have been changed into a
mortal being, that is, mortal in the body.
And the Catholics teach, on the contrary, that the state of man in Paradise
was a supernatural state, that man actually is just like we know him today, but
God gave him a special state of grace. And when he fell, he simply fell away from
that extra grace which had been added to him. And therefore his nature was not
changed. He was the same man, mortal man, but he was given some kind of extra
gift in the beginning. But according to Orthodoxy, our very nature was ruined, was
changed.
Fr. H: And thats the whole crux of the matter.
Fr. S: Christ is the new Adam; and in Him we are restored to our old nature.
Some Fathers like St. Symeon the New Theologian thought it, discussed the
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question of why, then, did we not immediately become immortal when Christ died
and resurrected. And he says so that we would not have to be forced, we would not
be someplace(?) like He did not come down from the Cross, that we still must
achieve our own salvation. And the creation is waiting for us to achieve our
salvation, when it too will rise up to the state it was before the Fall, in fact, even to
a higher state.
All that is filled with mysteries; its beyond us, but still we know enough of
it from the Holy Fathers. In fact, St. Symeon the New Theologian has a long quote
on the subject, what the state of man was before the Fall, and the whole of creation
was, he says, incorrupt and immortal, just like man. And only after the Fall did the
creatures begin to die. And when the new world comes, the heaven and the earth,
man, the meek will inherit the earth. He said, what earth is that? It is this earth you
see right here, only it will be burned up and restored so that all the creatures now
will be immortal. And that is what the whole creation is striving for, what the
creatures are groaning after. When St. Paul said they were subject to vanity, it
means they were subject to corruption, through the Fall of man.
Dobzhansky
Well look at one more Christian evolutionist before we come to the great
prophet of our age. This one is, alas, a Russian Orthodox scientist. His name is
Theodosius Dobzhansky and he lives in Davis, California, last we heard. He
teaches there genetics. In fact, I think he still has his fruit flies, and is continuing to
make experiments to prove evolution. Dobzhansky. D-O-B-Z-H-A-N-S-K-Y. He
was born in the year of the canonization of St. Theodosius of Chernigov, in answer
to prayer from his parents; and thats why he was called Theodosius. Alas, he
became an apostate. He came to America in the twenties and has been an American
since that time.
And hes been absolutely prohibited in Soviet Russia, although the Soviet
scientists know about him. And once when a film was accidentally presented at
one scientific meeting in Russia which showed him on it, all the scientists cheered;
and the film was withdrawn because he is non-existent, a non-person because he
left Russia. But he thinks like a Communist.
Hes so religious that when his wife died, he had her cremated, took the
ashes and scattered them in the Sierras. As far as one can guess, he never goes to
church; hes quite beyond religion. But for his great Christian evolutionist views,
he was granted a doctorate of theology by St. Vladimirs Academy in New York.
And he gave an address to, I think its called, the Orthodox
Theological Society of America. It has all the great theologians. Orthodox
theologians of all the jurisdictions, except ours, in America listened to him give
his talk, which was printed in Orthodox periodical called Concern. And its
called Evolution: Gods Method of Creation. In this article, he says that
anybody who says anything against evolution is a blasphemer, because that is the
way God acts and thats the way it is.
He says in this article, Natural selection is a blind and a creative process....
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Natural selection does not work according to a


foreordained plan....ccxl That is, where is Gods providence, if youre a Christian?
He notes the extraordinary variety of life on the earth, but he says, What a
senseless operation it would be if God had [were] to fabricate a multitude of
species ex nihilo, from nothing, and then let most of them die out! ...What is the
sense of having as many as two or three million species living on earth? ...Was the
creator in a jocular mood when he did this? Was he playing practical jokes? No,
he reasons, This organic diversity becomes, [however,] reasonable and
understandable if the Creator has created the living world, not by gratuitous
caprice but by natural selection. It is wrong to hold creation and evolution as
mutually exclusive alternatives.ccxli
Well, what he means by that,... it actually makes no difference if you have a
God. And he makes two or three million species by means of natural selection.
Isnt it just as silly as if He creates them all at once? Doesnt think straight...and
theres no plan to it. He says its all just blind, a blind process.
Of course, he is filled with the usual liberal Christian ideas that Genesis is
symbolical, that mans awareness is the cause of the tragic meaninglessness in the
world today, and the only escape is for man to realize that he can cooperate with
the enterprise of creation willed by God, for participation in this enterprise makes
mortal man part of Gods eternal design. And he says, The most gallant and by far
the most nearly successful attempt to do this -- cooperate with Gods eternal design
-- has been that of Teilhard de Chardin.ccxlii
Teilhard de Chardin
So, well look into now this last evolutionist who is the great evolutionist
prophet of our times. Teilhard de Chardin. He died in 1955, about 70 years old I
believe.
Student: Buried in New York State.
Fr. S: He was a paleontologist who was present at the discovery of many, most
of the great fossil men of our century.
It was he who took part with two other people in the discovery of Piltdown Man.
He discovered the tooth, which was dyed. Its not known whether he had a part in
it. One of these men is accused of being the one who fabricated the Piltdown Man;
and its been hushed up that Teilhard de Chardin had anything to do with it. But
its already known in the earlier books that he discovered the tooth.
He was present at the new discoveries of Java Man, which were incidentally
all locked up in a closet, in Holland someplace, and not allowed to be examined
again. He was present at many of the discoveries of Peking Man, while not at the
very beginning. And theres a great mystery there because the leading man who
discovered [it] dropped dead in the ditch one day. He [Teilhard] was also present
when the fossils of Peking Man disappeared for the last time. And so we have no
fossils of Peking Man left, and no casts were made. Theres only some kind of
drawings and models.
But he is the one who is chiefly responsible for the interpretation of all
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these findings. As he himself said, No matter where I went, I continually found


just the proof I was looking for.ccxliii And he fit these together into the evidence for
the proof of human evolution, which is so shaky that its, well, wewont go into it
now; but one writer has said, All the evidence for human evolution, all the skulls
could be put into a single small coffin.ccxliv And we just dont know what the
relation is of these pieces to each other.
This man, Teilhard de Chardin, is very remarkable because he is both a
scientist and a mystic. And the surprising thing is not so much that he is that way
because he was a Jesuit, after all, but that he is quite respected both by theologians,
Roman Catholic theologians, and in fact by many Orthodox so-called
theologians, and by scientists. In fact, this book The Phenomenon of Man has an
introduction by Julian Huxley who is the son of the, son or grandson, the son of the
older Huxley, T. H. Huxley, and is an absolute atheist, an atheist evolutionist. And
he agrees with Teilhard de Chardin on everything except when he puts too much
religion in. His attempt to reconcile Catholicism and evolution he felt was a little -he cant agree with everything there -- but basically he agrees with his philosophy.
This will bring us into territory which we discussed a little bit earlier. [As]
you recall, the earlier scientists in the West, at the revival of modern science,
actually the birth of modern science at the time of the Renaissance, were all
mystically oriented. They were filled with Pythagorean philosophy. And Bruno
himself was quite a mystical pantheist, The whole world is God,ccxlv how God is
the soul of the world. Again, we remember Saint-Simon, the socialist prophet, who
said the time is coming when not only the social order will be a religious
institution, but science and religion also will come together. And no longer will
science be atheistic. Well, this is the one they were looking for, the one who brings
together science and religion.
Lets take one more quote from nineteenth-century American philosopher,
Ralph Waldo Emerson, who talks about the very same thing: the restoration of
unity in man since he faces a situation where mans faith has been now divorced
from knowledge because of modern enlightenment, and how can we get back
together faith and knowledge. He says this in his essay On Nature: The reason
why the world lacks unity, and lies broken and in heaps, is because man is
disunited with himself. He cannot be a naturalist until he satisfies all the demands
of the spirit. Love is as much its demand as perception. [Indeed, neither can be
perfect without the other. In the uttermost meaning of the words, thought is devout,
and devotion is thought. {Emerson}] Deep calls unto deep, but in actual life, the
marriage is not celebrated. There are innocent men who worship God after the
tradition of their fathers, but their sense of duty has not yet extended to all their
faculties. That is, they are not critical about science and philosophy; they do not
criticize their own religion.
And there are patient naturalists, but they freeze their subject under the wintry
light of the understanding. That is, divorce it from religion. [Is not prayer also a
study of truth -- a sally of the soul into the unfound infinite? No man ever prayed
heartily without learning something.] But when a faithful thinker, resolute to
detach every object from personal relations and see it in the light of thought, shall,
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at the same time, kindle science with the fire of the holiest affections, then will
God go forth anew into the creation.ccxlvi So, hes a prophet of, Teilhard de
Chardin, one can say, of a person who discovers science and religion are once
more compatible.
Dobzhansky himself summarizes what Teilhard de Chardin tried to do in his
books. Teilhard de Chardin describes the stages through which evolutionary
development goes. And he uses technical terms, well only use a few of them. He
says, ...first, there is cosmogenesis, the evolution of inanimate nature, that is, the
genesis of the cosmos; second, biogenesis, which means evolution of life. And
third, noogenesis, the development of human thought. And he uses those
spheres, the words, the biosphere, which means the sphere of life; and theres a
noosphere, the sphere of thought. He says the whole of the globe now is being
penetrated by a web of thought which he calls the noosphere.
Up to here, says Dobzhansky, Teilhard stands firmly on a foundation of
demonstrable facts. To complete his theology of nature he then embarks on
prophecy based on his religious faith. [emphasis in Christian Evolutionism] He
speaks of his conviction, strictly undemonstrable to science, that the universe has
a direction and that it could -- indeed, if we are faithful, it should -- result in some
sort of irreversible perfection.ccxlvii
Dobzhansky quotes with approval this statement of Teilhard de Chardin
about what is evolution: Is evolution a theory, a system or a hypothesis? It is
much more -- it is a general postulate to which all theories, all hypotheses, all
systems must henceforward bow and which they must satisfy in order to be
thinkable and true. Evolution is a light which illuminates all facts, a trajectory
which all lines of thought must follow. This is what evolution is.ccxlviii
That is, evolution becomes in his thought -- which many, many people
follow, whether theyre Christian, or atheist, or whatever -- it is a kind of new
universal revelation for mankind. And everything, including religion, must be
understood in terms of evolution.
Briefly the teaching of Teilhard de Chardin is this:
What inspired Teilhard de Chardin, and inspires his followers today, is a
certain unitary view of reality, a joining together of God and the world, of the
spiritual and the secular, into a single harmonious and all-encompassing process
which cannot only be grasped by the modern intellectual, but can be felt by the
sensitive soul that is in close contact with the spirit of modern life; indeed, the
next step of the process can be anticipated by the modern man, and that is why
Teilhard de Chardin is so readily accepted as a prophet, even by people who do
not believe in God: he announces in a very mystical way, the future which every
thinking man today (save for conscious
Orthodox Christians) hopes for.ccxlix That is, every person who is in this tradition
of rationalism, coming from the age of the Enlightenment, and eventually from
the Middle Ages.
There are two sides to this unitary thought of Teilhard de Chardin: the
worldly side (by which he attracts and holds even total atheists), such as Julian
Huxley, and the spiritual side (by which he attracts Christians and gives a
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religion to unbelievers). Teilhard de Chardins own words leave no doubt that first
and foremost he was passionately in love with the world, with the earth.
He says, The world, its value, its infallibility and its goodness, that
when all is said and done is the first, the last and the only thing in which I
believe.ccl
Again he says, Now the earth can certainly clasp me in her giant arms.
She can swell me with her life, or take me back in to her dust. She can deck herself
out for me with every charm, with every horror, with every mystery. She can
intoxicate me with her perfume of tangibility and unity.ccli He said, Salvation was
no longer to be sought in abandoning the world, but now in active participation
in building it up.cclii
He was against the old forms of Christian spirituality; he disdained, quote,
All those goody-goody romances about the saints and the martyrs! Whatever
normal child would want to spend an eternity in such boring company?ccliii This is
a Jesuit priest. What we are all more or less lacking at this moment is a new
definition of holiness.ccliv The modern world is a world in evolution; hence, the
static concepts of the spiritual life must be rethought and the classical teachings of
Christ must be
reinterpreted.cclv
Of course, this is a reflection of the overthrowing of the old universe of
Newton, and with that he wants to put Christianity into the same category,
because it also is bound up with the classical, static way of thinking. Now we
have a new way of thinking; and therefore, just as we have a new physics, we
must also have a new Christianity.
The most powerful vision of Pre Teilhard de Chardin is this idea of
spiritualization of the world and worldly activity. He
was not merely in love with the world and all modern progress and scientific
development; his distinguishing mark was that he
gave these things a distinctly religious significance.cclvi As he even himself
writes, Then is it really true, Lord, by helping on the spread of science and
freedom, I can increase the density of the divine atmosphere in itself as well as for
me, that atmosphere in which it is always my one desire to be immersed? By
laying hold of the earth I enable myself to cling closely to you....
May the worlds energies, mastered by us bow down before us and
accept the yoke of our power.
May the race of men, grown to fuller consciousness and great strength
become grouped into rich and happy organisms in which life shall be put to better
use and bring in a hundredfold return.cclvii
I am not speaking metaphorically, he says, when I say that it is
throughout the length and breadth and depth of the world in movement that man
can attain the experience and vision of his god.cclviii [T]he time is past, he says,
in which God could simply impose Himself on us from without, as master and
owner of the estate. Henceforth the world will kneel down only
before the organic center of its own evolution.cclix Christianity and evolution are
not two irreconcilable visions; but two perspectives destined to fit together and
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complement each
other.cclx Evolution has come to infuse new blood, so to speak,
into the perspectives and aspirations of Christianity.cclxi The earth, he says, can
cast me to my knees in expectation of what is maturing in her breast. She has
become for me over and above herself, the body of him who is and of him who is
coming. [The
divine milieu.]cclxii
...Teilhard de Chardin as to what was in back of him. We should keep in
mind that he is not at all some kind of exception, some kind of, outside of Roman
Catholic tradition. He had some extremely traditional piety. For example, he was
extremely devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. And he has the following mystical
meditation upon it: Two centuries ago, Oh God, your Church, that is, Roman
Catholicism, began to feel the particular power of your heart... Now we are
becoming aware that your main purpose in this revealing to us of your heart was
to enable our love to escape from the constrictions of the too narrow, too precise,
too limited image of You which we had fashioned for ourselves. What I discern in
Your breast is simply a furnace of fire; and the more I fix my gaze on its ardency
the more it seems to me that all around it the contours of your body melt away and
become enlarged beyond all measure, till the only features I can distinguish in you
are those of the face of a world which has burst into flame.cclxiii
A person who is meditating on the Sacred Heart next begins to meditate
upon evolution, which is a further development of the same direction.
In fact, we didnt go into the Catholic mystics, but undoubtedly if we
looked into them we could find all sorts of parallels to what is happening in this
scientific, rationalistic world. Theyre all preparing the same thing -- chiliasm.
Evolution for Teilhard de Chardin is a process which is building up the
cosmic body of Christ in which all things are united with God. His most striking
idea, which is actually a kind of new development in Catholic thought, something
like the development of the Sacred Heart in piety, is his idea of the
transsubstantiation of the earth, which he wrote when he was in the Chinese
desert, near the Gobi Desert, in the twenties or thirties. And he has a little article
called The Mass on the World. He celebrates the Mass in this desert. As our
humanity assimilates the material world, and as the Host, that is, the Roman
Catholic Host, assimilates our humanity, the Eucharistic transformation goes
beyond and completes the transubstantiation of the bread on the altar. Step by step,
it irresistibly invades the universe.... The sacramental Species are formed by the
totality of the world, and the duration of the creation is the time needed for its
consecration.cclxiv In this process of evolution, the Body of Christ is being
formed in the world. Not the Christ of Orthodoxy, but the universal Christ or
Super-Christ, as he says.
The Super-Christ is defined by Teilhard as the synthesis of Christ and the
universe. This evolving Christ will bring about the unity of all religions. As he
says, quote, A general convergence of religions upon a universal Christ Who
fundamentally satisfies them all: this seems to me the only possible conversion of
the world, and the only form in which a
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religion of the future can be conceived.cclxv Thus, for Teilhard de Chardin,


Christianity is not unique truth, but it is rather, as he says, an emerging phylum of
evolution,cclxvi subject to change and transformation like everything else in the
evolving world.
Even like recent popes, he does not wish to convert the world, but only to
offer the papacy as the kind of mystical center of mans religious quest, a superdenominational Delphic Oracle.
As one of his admirers summarizes his view, If Christianity...is indeed to be the
religion of tomorrow, there is only one way in which it can hope to come up to the
measure of todays great humanitarian trends and assimilate them; and that is
through the axis, living and organic, of its Catholicism centered on Rome.cclxvii
At the same time that the universe is evolving into the Body of Christ,
according to Teilhard de Chardin, man himself is reaching the pinnacle of his
evolutionary development, which is called Super-Humanity. He says, If...the
evidence obliges our reason to accept that something greater than the man of
today is in gestation upon the earth,...in order to be able to continue to worship as
before we must be able to say to ourselves, as we look at the Son of Man, (not
Apparuit humanitas, but) Apparuit
Superhumanitas,cclxviii let Super-Humanity appear. Humanity would reach a
point of development when it would detach itself altogether from the earth and
unite with Omega, a phenomenon outwardly similar to death perhaps, but in
reality simple metamorphosis and accession to the supreme synthesis.cclxix That is,
this new state which is coming. He calls it the Omega Point, the point to which all
the creation now is ascending.
One day, the Gospel tells us, the tension gradually accumulating between
humanity and God will touch the limits prescribed by the possibilities of the world.
And then will come the end. Then the presence of Christ, which has been silently
accruing in things, will suddenly be revealed -- like a flash of light from pole to
pole.... The spiritual atoms of the world will be borne along by a force generated
by the powers of cohesion proper to the universe itself, and will occupy, whether
within Christ or without Christ (but always under the influence of Christ) the
[place of] happiness or pain designated for them by the living
structure of the Pleroma,cclxx the fullness of things. [T]he climax of evolution is
identified... with the risen Christ of the Parousia.cclxxi All men, Teilhard believes,
must desire this goal, for it is an accumulation of desires that should cause the
Pleroma to burst upon us.cclxxii And he says, To cooperate in total cosmic
evolution is the only deliberate act that can adequately express our devotion to an
evolutive and universal Christ.cclxxiii The unique business of the world is the
physical incorporation of the faithful in Christ, who is of God. This major task is
pursued with the rigor and harmony of a natural process of evolution.cclxxiv
Of course, he is completely doing away with all ideas of Christianity which
have been hitherto. Christianity is not an individual trying to save his soul; it is
everybody in the world evolving by a natural process up to the Omega Point.
Though frightened for a moment by evolution, he says, the Christian
now perceives that what it offers him is nothing but a magnificent means of feeling
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more at one with God, and of giving himself more to him. In a pluralistic and static
Nature, the universal domination of Christ could, strictly speaking, still be
regarded as an extrinsic and superimposed power. But In a spiritually converging
world, this Christic energy acquires an
urgency and intensity of another order altogether.cclxxv That is, Christ is not
outside saying, Obey me, come to me; He is set inside pushing us.
The are a few more of the views of Teilhard de Chardin we should mention.
In this pamphlet -- heres a picture of him [Cross Currents cover] by the way, very
intense thinker -- which show his views. Interestingly, he looks for a state which
will take us beyond the dead end of Communism. In fact, the three -- he wrote this
apparently during the war -- Communism, fascism and democracy, theyre all
fighting each other. He says we must go beyond that. ...[T]he great affair for
modern mankind, he says, is to break its way out by forcing some threshold of
greater consciousness. Whether Christians or not, the men who are animated by
this conviction form a homogeneous category-.cclxxvi The great event which we are awaiting is this: the discovery of a
synthetic act of adoration in which are allied and mutually exalted the passionate
desire to conquer the world, and the passionate desire to unite ourselves with God;
the vital act, specifically new, corresponding to a new age of the Earth.cclxxvii
By the way, you can see how chiliasms very strong. The New Age comes
out. In Communism, at any rate in its origins, faith in a universal human
organism reached a magnificent state of exhaltation.cclxxviii Perhaps because this is
something is heading toward the millenium. On the other hand, in its unbalanced
admiration for the tangible powers of the universe, [communism] has
systematically excluded from its hopes the
possibility of a spiritual metamorphosis of the universe.cclxxix So, if you add
spirituality to Communism, its the answer.
We must unite. No more political fronts, but one great crusade for human
advancement.... The democrat, the communist and the fascist must jettison the
deviations and limitations of their systems and pursue to the full the positive
aspirations which inspire their enthusiasm, and then, quite naturally, the new spirit
will burst the exclusive bonds which still emprison it; the three currents will find
themselves merging in the conception of a common task; namely, to promote the
spiritual future of the world.... [T]he function of man is to build and direct the
whole of the earth.cclxxx
is nothing else than the discovery of God.cclxxxi Thats how mysticism
comes right into the middle of science. And of course, whats in science nowadays
is losing all of its bearings; its become indeterminate, its a whole universe of
anti-matter, which mixes them up. It all ends in mysticism.
The only truly natural and real human unity, he says, is the Spirit of the
Earth.... A conquering passion begins to show itself, which will sweep away or
transform what has hitherto been the immaturity of the earth.... The call towards
the great union whose realization is the only business now afoot in
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nature....cclxxxii He means the universal unity of mankind. The Sense of Earth is


the irresistable pressure which will come at the right moment to unite them all
in a common passion.cclxxxiii
build the
earth.
The age of nations is past. The task before us now, if we would not
perish, is to shake off our ancient prejudices, and to
cclxxxiv
...[T]he great conflict from which we shall have emerged will merely have
consolidated in the world the need to believe. Having reached a higher degree of
self-mastery, the Spirit of Earth will experience an increasingly vital need to
adore; out of universal evolution God emerges [emphasis in orginal] in our
consciousness as greater and more necessary than ever.cclxxxv We have an urgent
need to find a faith, a hope to give meaning and soul to the immense organism we
are building.cclxxxvi This, of course, means this whole modern revolution needs;
its lost itself. It finds when it tries to build a new paradise, it destroys everything,
and what is needed is a religious meaning to it. And this he gives. So all the
things in modern life are good. Only add to them this: theyre all heading for
some kind of spiritual kingdom, new kingdom.
We cannot yet understand exactly where this will all lead us, but it
would be absurd for us to doubt that it will lead us towards some end of supreme
value.cclxxxvii In this hes really, hes a prophet, but hes not really quite sure
where its all going.
The generating principle of our unification is not finally to be found in
the single contemplation of the same truth or in the single desire awakened by
something, but in the single attraction exercised by the same Someone.cclxxxviii
That is, were striving towards worshipping Someone.
Therefore, in spite of all the apparent improbabilities, we are inevitably
approaching a new age in which the world will cast off its chains, to give itself
up at last to the power of its internal affinities.cclxxxix
[W]ith two thousand years of mystic experience behind us, of Roman
Catholicism, the contact which we can make with the personal focus of the
universe has gained just as much explicit richness as the contact we can make,
after two thousand years of science, with the natural spheres of the world.
Regarded as a phylum of love, Christianity is so living that, at this very
moment, we can see it undergoing an extraordinary mutation by elevating itself to
a firmer consciousness of its universal value.
Is there not now under way one further metamorphosis, the ultimate,
...the realization of God at the heart of the Noosphere, the mental world, the
passage of the circles, of all the spheres, to their common Center...the
apparition at last
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of the Theosphere?ccxc when man and the world become God.


This is very deep in modern man because this is what he wants. All these
philosophical, chiliastic, socialistic systems all have as their end the idea that
God is thrown out, Christianity is thrown out; the world is divine. The world is
somehow the body of God. And man wants to be a god. And now hes lost God,
God is dead. The Superman wants to be born; and hes the one who, being a
scientist at the same time, is a mystic. That is, hes trying to unite, what we saw,
this desire for the Grand Inquisitor, the spiritual side and the scientific side, the
union of religion and science, and of course a new order which will be political.
And hes a prophet of Antichrist.
And so with this, modern rationalism in our time comes to an end. Reason
finally comes to doubt or even to deny itself. Science is upset, does not know
what is, what it can know, what it cannot know; every place there is relativism.
And we saw already this morning about the philosophy of the absurd. And it
turns out that going through all those experiments of the apostasy, man
cannot develop anything for himself. He tried everything and each time he was
confident that hed had finally found the answer, he overthrew more and more
from the past. And always whatever he made was overthrown by the next
generation. And now he comes finally to doubting even whether the world
exists, whether he, what he is. Many people commit suicide. Many destroy. And
what is left for man? Theres nothing left except to wait for a new revelation.
And man is in such a state, he has no value system, he has no religion of his
own that he cannot but accept whatever comes, as this new revelation.
Tomorrow well take one last look at the prospects for the new
revelation. And the striving of mankind for this new revelation.
About Teilhard de Chardin, we can add that his book The Phenomenon of
Man was published in 1965 in Moscow. The first book of a Christian thinker,
except the propaganda volume of the red Dean of Canterbury [Hewlett Johnson],
ever to be published in the USSR. After this publication, Fr. John Meyendorff of
the American Metropolia wrote the following words:
The Christocentric understanding of man and the world which, according
to Teilhard de Chardin, are in a state of constant change and striving towards the
Omega Point, that is, the highest point of being and evolution, which is
identified by the author with God Himself, connects Teilhard with the profound
intuition of the Orthodox Fathers of the Church.ccxci
And Nikida Struve writes, It should be noted that the chief characteristic
of Teilhardism is not at all the acceptance of evolution -- this has not been a
novelty for a long time among theologians and religious philosophers. The soul
of the teaching of the French thinker is a new approach to the problem of the
world and creation. Teilhard de Chardin only sets forth in contemporary
language the teaching of the Apostle Paul concerning nature, which is not
excluded from the plan of Salvation.ccxcii
Fr. H: Pure Orthodox scholar.
Fr. S: And he even says, concerning this Mass on the World, where the earth
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is being evolved into God, he says, In the Mass on the World, Teilhards
experiences were for him something like a cosmic Liturgy, which is invisibly
performed in the world. Here is the very heart of the Teilhardian proclamation
which restores to us the forgotten, immemorially Christian understanding of the
universe and the Divine Incarnation. Precisely it illuminated for Teilhard de
Chardin the meaning of evolution as the movement of the whole cosmos toward
the Kingdom of God and enabled him to overcome the negative approach to the
world which is deeply rooted among
Christians.ccxciii
Fr. H: Now we see who are our enemies. Metropolia, the first enemy.
Fr. S: And theres a whole article in the Paris newspaper, the Paris, whats it
called? Vestnik ccxciv by a Polish Orthodox theologian [Fr. George Klinger] in
which he makes Teilhard de
Chardin a Father of the Church, in the tradition of the great Orthodox Fathers
who are Montanus, Joachim of Flores, etc....
[Fr. Seraphim quotes Fr. Klinger on p. 21 of Christian Evolutionism:]
Fr. Teilhard speaks much on the cosmic role of Christ, of the Divine
Milieu, and very little of the Church. In this case too he converges with
tendenices akin to him in Orthodox theology.... In Fr. Teilhard, the Church is
identified with the
working of Christ in the cosmos. ccxcv According to Fr. Teilhard, through
communion of the Holy Mysteries the world
being sanctified becomes the Body of Christ.... These thoughts are possibly the
profoundest that have been said in recent years on
the question of the central sacrament of Christianity. ccxcvi
Anti-evolution points
1. Soul cant be evolved (words, etc.)
2. Paradise doesnt fit evolution.
3. Two different kinds of world before and after the Fall (2/3 Adam
900 years old)
4. 1 Adam vs. many Adams.
5. Earth and grass before the sun.
6. Rib of Adam.
7. Years 1,000s vs. millions: Batrichie real or
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not?
8. Scripture real or allegorical

Lecture 12
Modern Art & Spiritualism
A. Now we ll finish by giving some other symptoms of the Revolution and
chiliasm which is the central theme of modern age. Some Germans
have seen deeply into this.
B. Art: decline from humanism to sub-humanism
This writer, Hans Sedlmayr, talks about the history of modern art,
especially of the last two centuries, as bringing into Western art, Western culture,
entirely new phenomena, which later on hell interpret as to what it means. He
discusses first the fact that in the nineteenth century there was no dominant
style, but new styles seemed to come every decade or two. And the lack of a
style he attributes to the fact that theres no common belief underlying the
society. Theres no sort of one thing which art is devoted to, as it was in the
Middle Ages to the cathedrals.
Then he discusses architecture. And we find that just at the time of the
French Revolution, just before, theres this architect LeDoux, who comes up with
the scheme for a perfectly spherical building, not only as monuments, but also as
a house for a sheriff; and [giving a] completely ordinary thing like that this very
extraordinary form. And later on this dies out because its practically not possible,
and then [it] comes back again just before and during the Russian Revolution in
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the twentieth century. And there the idea is to overcome the sense of being bound
to the earth. This also is a chiliastic idea.
Architecture also becomes unstable and no longer do you see sort of a
orderly building coming up from the earth, rising up into the sky; instead it
becomes sort of off-balance, as though its going to fall over.
And finally there is the idea of building as a machine. A house is a
machine for living in, a chair is a machine for sitting in. This is in the twentieth
century. And we have this quote from LeCorbusier, one of the great architects
supposedly of our times, who even built a convent on these principles, a frightful
loooking thing. He says, The heart of our ancient cities with their spires and
cathedrals must be shattered to pieces and replaced by skyscrapers.ccxcvii And this
is that very world which we living in cities must face. And not only does
revolutionary philosophy affect us, and revolutionary political systems, but also
revolutionary architecture and art.
Secondly he talks about the torso, which for the first time in the middle of
the nineteenth century in the sculpture of Rodin -- by the way, many of whose
sculptures are in San Francisco at the Legion of Honor -- the idea of the torso is
put into reality. Before then it was only some kind of sketch. But now the
complete fragment, totally fragmentary thing, becomes a work of art. It shows
that the higher purpose of art has been totally lost.
And now we come to the very striking sphere of painting. And he discusses
Goya, who lived at this very time, at, contemporary with Napoleon, the late
eighteenth, early nineteenth century. And about him he says this, The more we
study the art of Goya the more intense grows our conviction that, just like Kant
in philosophy and LeDouxs architecture, he is one of the great pulverizing,
destructive forces that bring a new age into being. In Goyas art certain
characteristics force their way to the surface, they are symptoms of what have
become the decisive trends of modern painting, but theres more to him than that.
Court painter though he was and officially working for the Court, even as
LeDoux still worked for the [ancien regime ] old regime and dedicated his
great architectural works to two monarchs,
Goya nevertheless is the embodiment of the new type of the
exposed artist in the sense [outlined above]. weve discussed. The new
element in his art has no connection with the public
sphere, but derives from a completely subjective province of experience,
from the dream.
For the first time an artist, taking refuge neither in disguise nor pretext,
gives visible form to the irrational. The two series of his called Suenos
(Dreams) and Disparates (Madnesses) are the real keys not only to his own
work to but to the most essential thing in modern art. And Disparates are also
the frescoes with which he decorated the walls of his country house, and not a
few of his pictures.
Here for the first time an artist has thought something worthy to be put
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on canvas, which derives directly from the depths of the dream world and the
irrational. Nothing could surely be more mistaken than to suppose that these
series were created to improve or instruct the world or to brand some politician.
The elemental power of these visions would never be understood in terms of so
innocuous and idealistic an explanation....ccxcviii
Once Hell was a clearly defined province of the world beyond. All the
hideous products of the imagination by which the human mind could be
tormented were banished into pictures of that place and were thus objectivized.
The eruption of Hell into this world was a real and external thing, and it was thus
that the painter would portray it in pictures of the tempting of the saints and of
those dehumanized human beings that mocked and tormented Our Lord.
In the other case, however, the one here before us, this world of the
monstrous had become part of mans inner world. It exists within man himself,
and this brings us to a new conception of man, in so far as man himself becomes
demoniac. It is not merely a matter of his outward appearance, it is that the man
himself and all his world have been delivered to a demon empire. Man is on the
defensive. It is Hell that has the overwhelming power and the forces that man
can marshall against it are feeble and despairing.
In the visions of [the Suenos] his dreams and so-called proverbs,
[and Proverbios] we see every disfigurement by which man can be made
hideous and every temptation by which his dignity can be assailed; we see
demons in human form and beside them bewitched creatures of every kind,
monstrosities, ghosts, witches, giants, beasts, lemurs and vampires. Chronos
devouring his children seems like a nightmare personified as he squats, a naked
giant on the edge of an oppressed world, and yet this Pandemonium of unclean
spirits has a kind of raging vitality. These are no creatures of artistic fantasy -these are bloody realities that have been personally
experienced.ccxcix
The date of the [Suenos] Dreams, of which several of these are
examples, this series of paintings, is 1792, when the
French Revolution had reached its climax. It was at this date also that Goya had a
severe illness, the nature of which we do not know. These are the decades when
many artists seem to have been possessed by demoniac powers. The sculptor
Messerschmidt repeatedly portrays his own face as a hideous grimacing mask,
while the ice-cold art of Fssli in Germany shows indications of unmistakable
hallucination. This is the time when Flaxman saw the devilish face which, for
some inscrutible reason, he called The Ghost of the Flea. It is also the age of
Mesmer [(1733-1815)], the age when occultism was highly fashionable. It was as
though a door had opened in man, a door leading down into the world of the
subhuman -- the world which threatens those with madness who have seen too
much of it.ccc
There is a second artist he talks about who is quite the contrary, but also
reveals this very similar thing. A painter called Friedrich, a German painter of
this time. In his painting, The human warmth has gone out of mans relation to
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created things.
The moon, itself a dead body, coldly reflecting the light of the sun that has set,
veiling the world in a shroud, is the chief symbol of this new feeling that man has
about them. Man feels himself abandoned by God. He is as much alone in the
universe and as unrelated to it, as is the crucifix in Friedrichs picture, standing in
the vast impersonal silence of the mountains.ccci
The third aspect he talks about in this age is, which is very symptomatic,
is the caricature. About this he says, The caricature was not totally unknown
in previous epochs,... but It is only from the end of the eighteenth century that,
starting in
England, caricature became widespread and was recognizable as a clearly
defined branch of art; it is not till the nineteenth century that, in the work of
Daumier, the French artist, it could become the main field of activity for an
artist of the very first rank. It is therefore not the appearance of caricature as such
that constitutes the decisive historical event; but its elevation to the rank of a
respected and significant art.
After 1830 there appeared the periodical La Caricature, a
publication with a clear political intention. A
Walpurgisnacht, Paul Valry calls it, a Pandemonium, a Satanic comedy,
riotous to the point of debauchery. Now pure tomfoolery, now avid with the lust
of blood. These words give us an insight into caricatures spiritual paternity, its
essence is a distortion of the human though it occasionally does more, it
sometimes invests human nature with the attributes of Hell, for it is in the nature
of Hell to create images, by which our human nature is insulted and belied. This
distortion may be of the most varied kind. Man, for instance, can be distorted into
a mask, and it is significant that Daumiers work as a caricaturist should begin
with that....
In the main, however, there are two methods which this process of
distortion employs -- ...one negative, the other positive. The negative method
takes from man his dignity and his form, it shows him as ugly, misshapen,
wretched and ridiculous. Man, the crown of creation, is debased and dethroned -but for all that he still retains his humanity.cccii
But The positive method of distortion makes a wholly different and
subhuman creature out of man. In doing so it pulls out the same stops that have
always been used by the portrayers of Hell in Western art. Mans features
become a grimace, he is turned into a monstrosity, a freak, an animal, a beast, a
skeleton, an apparition, an idol, a doll, a sack or an automaton. He appears ugly,
a thing to excite misgiving, an unformed creature, a object grotesque and
obscene. His actions assume the character of the nonsensical, the absurd, the
insincere, the comic, the brutal and the demonic.ccciii
The primary impulse behind [it] this is doubt or despair concerning
man as such, a denial of the goodness or beauty of human nature. The
conventional form of caricature is merely a pretext under which this view of
man can be freely unfolded.
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In Daumiers case, [of course] -- and this distinguishes him from the
much more savage and cynical caricatures of the beginning of the twentieth
century -- his lack of confidence in man is outweighed by a recognition of his
greatness. Daumier saw the grandeur of man as did scarcely any other artist of
the nineteenth century. Grandeur and absurdity are merged in him and so beget
the tragi-comic.
When the beginning of the twentieth century was reached, however, that
saving balance was to disappear. There was to be a new and supreme flowering
of the merciless type of caricature, and one which at heart wholly despaired of
man, but now the distorted picture of man that had begun with ineluctable power
to take possession of the artists mind, was to show itself without disguise in the
human types produced by the art of the day, types which strike simple folk as the
most terrible of caricatures and which indeed do proceed from the same dark
caverns of the soul as does the caricature itself.ccciv
And before this, in the eighteenth century, there is still an ordinary normal
idea of man -- you paint portraits, that is, somebody pays you, the nobility pay
you, you paint their portraits, theres a function for it, even though its not
religious, its not particularly profound. Its still art, has a definite place, a
function, and you can recognize the human being; and its often very well done.
Theres a sense of the three dimensions. This kind of art is perfect in its own
way. And now all this is dissolving into by these, the torso, the demonic enters
in, the caricature, or else icy coldness. All these are destroying the very idea of
painting as some kind of thing related to human beings.
Now he discusses briefly the art of Czanne and modern painting. The art
of Czanne[, then,] is a borderline affair. It is a kind of narrow ridge between
impressionism and expressionism and in its unnatural stillness prepares for the
eruption of the extra human. [Emphasis in original]
What this leads to is that man -- again contrary to all natural experience
-- is put on one level with all other things. Soon after Czanne, Seurat was to
represent man as though he were a wooden doll, a lay figure, or automaton, and
still later, with Matisse, the human form was to have no more significance than a
pattern on wallpaper, while with the Cubists man was to be
degraded to the level of an engineering model.cccv
[The painting] of Czanne was pure painting -- that is, first the
impressionists came and they sort of dissolved things into what is for the moment
-- no longer any idea of the way things should be or a deeper idea behind it -- just
the way things appear. If horses are galloping, [it is] with, you can see, all twenty
different feet instead of just four feet. And they want to present, just to capture
the moment. They are influenced by photography, of this whole idea of reducing
art just to this moment. And they were very charming things, some of them. But
you can already see that reality is dissolving in them. And Czanne said that he
wanted to take impressionism and make it a classical art. And therefore he took it
and sort of froze it, and in fact this man even says that his art is the kind of thing
you see when youre just barely opening your eyes and youre half asleep. And
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this is not art, this is but a momentary thing which is very dangerous (from the
person?) to classical art. And here you can see his landscape which is, it is no
longer sort of a landscape, you can still see its landscape, but now its very sort
of strange, its sort of made geometrical, he said his idea was to make it into
something geometrical.
[T]he Cubists simply tried to take reality and to chop it up into pieces
and take the separate pieces. Instead of having a face, a whole face, you take
your face and take the eye here and the cheek and the mouth and so forth and
sort of glue it back together. And it looks extremely weird, as though youre
taking reality apart and then just partly putting it back together again.
The art is divided up actually into two categories: one is the very
rationalistic art, which takes piece, things apart and barely puts them together,
and the other is very expressionistic: someone gets an idea and distorts like crazy
in order to get across his idea. And it eventually ends up that he just stands in
front of the canvas like this Jackson Pollock, in front of a twenty foot canvas. He
gets inspired, throws paint, and he gets $10,000 for it.
And sometimes its very, you can, you look, theres a definite pattern. He has
some kind of inspiration, because the world has order in it. And a person has
sort of, really is interested in art, maybe he can give some kind of pattern to it.
I know one religious painter, in fact I think hes a famous painter now.
Went to college with him, Sombach (?). He said he wanted to paint religious
things and how, in order to paint, he looked at the crucifix, he got the idea and
then (makes smashing sound) threw things on to it. Comes out some kind of
ghastly distortion of Christ on the Cross.
It is at this point that the behavior of these allegedly pure painters
borders on the pathological. They begin to suffer from that diseased condition
whose essence is the minds inability to project itself into the minds of others or
into the world outside. When that condition obtains, everything seems dead and
alien, men can then only see the outside of things, they are no longer conscious of
human life in others.
It is also at this point that the whole world begins to become unstable,
for when things are mere phenomena that have no meaning inherent in them,
then they begin to be experienced as things without stability, things fleeting,
wavering, bodiless and indetermined. They are solid things no longer
[(Usnadze)]. This may explain why those who wish to see a world in flux are
automatically driven towards absolute painting, the painting that
is innocent of any meaning whatsoever.cccvi
The kind of painting that began about 1900 and dominated the twenties is
not only contemporary with modern technicized architecture, it is not only
preceded, like the latter, by a kind of prelude around 1800, it has a deep
connection with it and all over Europe and beyond was favored and propagated
by exactly the same groups, by those namely that were the carriers of the spirit
of 1789. The two things go together, despite the fact that the new architecture is
so cold and objective and the new painting is so wild and irrational. One reflects
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the other, despite the fact that painting and building have been wholly separated
from each other.
For a painting no longer helps to give form and character to a particular
space, as the decorative fresco of art nouveau still attempted to do, the picture
has become something belonging wholly to itself; it is no longer even a
stationery patch on the wall. Rather is its character that of a book, which we
open and put away again. Le Corbusier, the theorist of the new doctrines, the
architect, declared that all pictures should be kept in cupboards and that they
should only be hung on the walls for a few hours, as the spirit happened to move
us. He found the stable picture intolerable.
This kind of painting was for long a subject of acute controversy -which makes a cool appraisal extremely difficult. Yet the verdict of its most
adverse critics is not so damaging as a purely historical interpretation, for this
last brings the questionable character of these efforts to light by the simple
process of describing them.
The inner relationship between this kind of painting and the modern
building of yesterday is shown first and foremost in their common desire to
dissolve the old orders. As there are now buildings in which top and bottom are
no longer clearly distinguishable, so there are pictures in which top and bottom
can be confused with one another. That is of course a purely external symptom,
though it is an extremely eloquent one; it is moreover, something quite
unprecedented in the history of painting, unprecedented even in its most daring
aberrations and it is an indication of the extra-human, inhuman character of this
form of art. In saying this we have really come into possession of the key to the
understanding of modernist art in all its phases, for these only really differ in the
means employed.
All the new ways of looking at the world which this modernist art brings
in its train are fundamentally extra-human even in an outward and superficial
sense. The photography even of the twenties, for instance, is marked by a
tendency to avoid the normal view of human personality, and falls back on a
few mechanical formulae. It favors pictures taken from above or below and from
unusual angles, lighting effects that break up the
subject, and distortions as in a distorting mirror.cccvii
Of course, in the film you see the same thing. All kinds of experiments to
see how you can break up the picture or show
different pictures next to each other to make some kind of striking effect.
In doing this it merely goes along with the essentially extra-human trend
in painting which gives clear expression to its spiritual attitude. Every art of
course in greater or less degree takes the world that it finds and departs after its
own fashion from our normal experience [thereof] of this in order [thus] to
create it anew, but modernistic art is driven by an ungovernable urge to pass
beyond the limits of the merely human.
This explains how the normal themes of pictures of the mid-nineteenth
century take on a kind of [in extremis] extreme aspect in which man appears to
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surrender his essential humanity and begins to see things as a man sees them in
delirium or in a nightmare, under the influence of drugs, or under that of incipient
madness or extreme terror, and these states on the edge of madness produce
visions of the most astonishing kind. The visible world, the world of actual forms
in portraiture, landscape, still-life and every other kind of painting, even in what
is still alleged to be religious art, becomes alien, distorted and horrible. The
nature of its ordering becomes unstable and resolves itself into fragments; form
disintegrates, becomes fluid and chaotic. In some cases, man and his world are
transformed by the rigidity of death; familiar things become strange and living
nature becomes nature morte. -- still life.
It has been said [of] that Greek art [that it] was harnessed between two
mighty powers which were perpetually at its side and with which it ever had to
strive throughout the whole of its existence in order to assert itself at all. These
two powers were chaos and death. The new painting, in its maniac desire to
shake off the fetters of the merely human, has admitted these powers into art -and with them a third, which the Greeks did not know, and which it was left to
the Middle Ages to bring into our lives. That power is Hell. All this, chaos, death
and Hell, are antitypes of humanity. The representation of a world which these
three powers have distorted is the essential matter [in] of the new painting.
The proximity of art to death and its kinship to the atmosphere of death,
the atmosphere that makes all things cold and rigid, is something not without
precedent in the history of art, something that is only superficially formulated
by the terms
Romantic and Romantic Movement. When this phase occurs an exalted
nocturnal view of life, of nature and antiquity breaks out of the depths of mans
being -- but through it all mans dignity has been preserved. The proximity of
death in the German romantic movement as it is experienced in [Gilly, in]
Beethoven, [Kleist,] Holderlin, Novalis, Runge and Friedrich, is tragic, but it is
still human. In his surrender in art to the now unapproachable sum of things man
asserts his law against chaos which for him is a reality that he knows only too
well.
In the modern phase, however, there is combined with the consciousness
of death (which in a thousand forms lurks behind all living things, makes its
awful presence known in a faded flower, in an empty room -- [yes,] even in a still
life) there comes now a torturing doubt as to the dignity and the very nature of
man. That doubt may resolve itself into an agonized acceptance of negation or
turn to a positive and cynical distortion of his being. Here the proximity of death
is no longer tragic, it is something infernal, it is an affirmation of chaos, and it is
all the more terrible because there is no province of life that is entirely immune to
this eruption of the nether world.
Once Hell was a clearly circumscribed domain that stood in contrast to a
universe that had meaning and reason. But by an almost similar aberration as that
which, in the nineteenth century, caused men to see the gleam of Heaven in the
natural light which shown down upon all things, so that even a load of hay was
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transfigured by it,... there now erupt into reality the most terrifying visions from
the antechambers of Hell and from all the circles thereof. The coming of these
visions was a thing unknown to those who conjured it, but they come for all that,
nothing is immune to their influence. Whatever belongs to horror and to night, to
disease, death and decay, whatever is crass, obscene, and perverse, whatever is
mechanical and a denial of the spirit -- all these modes, motifs and aspects of the
inhuman take hold of man and of his familiar world. They make of man a ruin, an
automaton, a mask, a phantom. He sinks to the level of a louse, an insect. In the
various movements of modern painting it is always one or the other of these
various anti-human attributes that is underlined. Cubism lays the emphasis on
deadness, Expressionism on boiling chaos, Surrealism on the cold demonism of
the last icy regions of Hell. Even if the actual works had been lost, the very titles
chosen for the pictures by the men who painted them would be sufficient to
betray their spiritual home -- Fear, Sick City, Dying City, Moribundus,
[Mon Portrait Squelettise,] My portrait as a Skeleton, Plague Above,
Plague Below, Plague Everywhere, The Joke has conquered Suffering, The
Dunghill, Back Into Nothing.
The interpretation here adopted may at first sight seem fantastic. Yet, if
we look at the matter objectively, we will find that it does just what a theory
ought to do, it explains a multiplicity of data which we have till now had to try
and understand one at a time, it allows us to recognize all the various isms,
from Futurism to Surrealism -- they are all in one way or another a flight from
the higher reality -- as expressions (which only differ from one another on the
surface) of the same basic powers, for although human nature in all its
manifestations is always essentially one, its denials are many. Such a theory, in a
word, allows us to see through all the differences, including the minutiae details
of technique....cccviii
...[T]here is, to speak in purely aesthetic terms, a genuine art of the
horrible and the infernal, nor is this most dangerous artistic potentiality by any
means to be denied. It has lurked behind Nordic art from its very beginnings, for
it was Nordic art that produced the image of Christ disfigured in death, a thing
unknown to the art of Eastern Christianity, as it also produced the picture of
Hell. Bosch, Bruegel and Grnewald raised this art of the horrible to the same
level that it attained in its most transfigured and exalted forms, while Goya
widened its scope without for a moment deserting the province of true art at all
-- and indeed we find on the threshold of this new art of inward death and Hell a
number of artists whose genuine artistic power cannot possibly be denied; Ensor,
Munch, Kubin, Schiele are examples.cccix
Van Gogh, Munch, and this Munch we saw this Cry, Seurat, the
pointillist, all born about 1860, are the first painters in which this new thing is
apparent, though they have not yet completely surrendered to it. It is only in
Ensor, this one, [Fr. S. shows illus., p. 141] also born in 1860, that it becomes
all-pervading. For those born after 1860 it becomes their destiny. Long before the
First World War it revealed the nightmare that was riding Europe in its great
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cities. After the war a definite artistic decline set in, and it is now that the
symptoms of extreme degeneration come into evidence. With the new
objectivity the most dead and banal form is attained. Regarded politically this
newest and latest art is the ally of anarchy, psychologically it is the expression of
an enormous fear and of a hatred of the human race which men turned against
their own persons. The most profound explanation of the artistic abortions which
now came into the world phenomena had already been given by Goya, who
wrote under the title page of his collection of paintings called [Suenos, El sueno
de la razon produce monstruos] Dreams,
When reason dreams, monsters are born.cccx
And we see this is when reason comes to the end of the Enlightenment,
there erupt into human life, irrational forces which come from the demons.
...Actually it says, El sueno de la razon produce monstruos.: the dream of
reason produces monsters.
And finally he talks about Surrealism. The leading theme of Surrealism is
chaos absolute, the movement seizes upon it wherever it can be found -- in the
dark regions of the world of dreams, in hallucination, in the deranged and
irrational character of ordinary life, in that department of reality in which things
that have no intrinsic connection with one another have been brought together in
a fortuitous, senseless and fragmentary manner, be it in the confusion of a great
city or in that of total war or in that of a junk-shop -- the junk-shops treasures
seem to fill the Surrealists with quite peculiar enthusiasm. Their subject-matter
may be loosely defined as the chaos of total decay, not the chaos of creative
potentialities, but that of finality, not the chaos of things coming to birth, but that
of things finished and done with, not the chaos of fruitful nature, but that of the
unnatural -- a chaos from which, as Goethe says, the very spirit of God
Himself could hardly create a worthy world [(Goethe)].cccxi
There is no gainsaying the [movements] power. of this movement of
Surrealism. Of all the trends of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, apart
from the new building, only two
[contrived] managed to survive the Second World War -- positive realism in
painting and this same Sous-realism. There are already Surrealist cells in many
countries -- and not in European countries alone. Compared with it,
Expressionism represents an altogether negligible minority.
No purpose is served by belittling such a phenomenon, nor should one
comfort oneself with the pretense that such things are mere extravagances, follies
or forms of some strange spiritual gain. Even as early as 1860, Dostoyevsky
prophetically recognized in his People of the Abyss that such types as those
which Surrealism has brought to full flower had inevitably to come into being -given the circumstances in which our society has developed -- and in the last
resort Surrealism only represents the final acceleration in the downward rush of
man and art, that downward rush of which Nietzsche was already aware when in
1881 he wrote [the fragment Der tolle Mensche]:
Are we not continually falling? -- backwards, sideways and in all
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directions? Do top and bottom still remain? Are we not wandering through
infinite nothingness? Is not the breath of empty space in our faces? Has it not
grown colder?cccxii [Emphasis in original]
We see here inner connection between philosophy, politics and art....
He makes some conclusions: ...[O]ur diagnosis of modern art is further
confirmed by the undeniable fact that modern art finds no difficulty in portrayal
of the demoniac and of man himself turned [demoniac,] into a demon, but it
finds insuperable difficulty in showing us man as a human being, and it fails
utterly when it comes to the God-man and the saint.cccxiii
Modern art, The attraction that is exercised on the artist by the extrahuman and the extra-natural by darkness, unreality and the subconscious, by
chaos and nothingness has about it all the qualities of an enchantment.... Paul
Klee says, Our beating heart drives ever deeper towards the ultimate ground
of things.cccxiv
...[T]he disturbance of modern art extends to man in all his different
aspects and relationships. There is the disturbance of mans relation to God. In
the sphere of art, this is made more palpable than anywhere else by the nature of
the task that now absorbs creative energy -- an energy which previously had
been absorbed by the temple, the church, and the sacred image. Mans new gods
are Nature, Art, the Machine, the
Universe, Chaos and Nothingness.cccxv
Now he talks in general about this whole movement
from the time of Enlightenment to now.
In the pantheism and deism of the eighteenth century a gulf was opened
up between man and God. At first the idea of God seemed much [purer] more
pure than that of a personal
God. Our notion of God became divested of what seemed to be an
anthopomorphic element, even as that element was expelled from architecture.
What happened, however, was that this God of the philosophers evaporated into
nature and vanished. While this was happening, something was also changing in
the idea of man, which was divested of its theomorphic element even as God had
been divested of the anthropomorphic. The result was very different from what
had been intended, for man by this process was reduced to the level of an
automaton -- when he was not reduced to that level of a demon.cccxvi
...the loss of God as a reality destroys the original sense of reality as a
whole.
Having lost that sense, man turns into an anti-realist, into an idealist, a
being living among phantasms....cccxvii which opens opens up the possibility of
the devils to come.
Fr. H: Imagination.
Fr. S: ...[I]n the radical form of Deism the divorce between
God and man arises from the fact that God is relegated into the far distance, so
that God and the world begin to be regarded as distinct and wholly separated
things. God is the absent God who created the great clock which is the world
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and duly wound it up. That clock now continues to run according to its own inner
laws, which means that the world unfolds itself automatically. This excludes the
possibility of any personal relation to God. All mystery is eliminated -- indeed,
the chief work of one of the protagonists of Deism, Toland, is called Christianity
not Mysterious. as we already saw. ...Everywhere spiritual relations now grow
cold. Their place is taken by the frigid relations of reason; doubt plays an ever
more decisive part, and everything that feels the touch of his coldness is
transformed: The world becomes a world machine -- man [an hommemachine],cccxviii a man machine. As this, who was it, Avichy(?), I think, wrote
the book at the time of Voltaire, [A]nd the state becomes a state machine.
LeDoux, remember the architect who made the round, the spherical buildings,
he wanted to make, who was doubtless an adept in this peculiar type of religious
sentiment, asks, as he contemplates the earth: [Cette machine ronde, nest elle
pas sublime?] This round machine, is it not sublime?cccxix
Man now becomes as isolated towards his fellows as he is towards God,
and as isolated towards nature. He is, as LeDoux himself says, isolated
everywhere. We must thus infer that
Deism stands at the origin of those varied phenomena which are characterized
above as a tendency towards the inorganic. Its effect is everywhere deadening
and it makes men strangers to God and to each other.cccxx So actually this art
does have a religious background; it has a background first of Deism.
Next we have pantheism. And he discusses this in the poet Holderlin at
this very time at the turn of the nineteenth century. The individual figures, part
human, part divine, in whom Holderlin worships the divine, -- namely
Christ,
Heracles and Dionysius --resolve themselves into a nebulous something, that
is, so to speak, pre-divine or super-divine.
This becomes all the clearer with the course of time when Holderlin
addresses his Holiest, nature. He prays to something that seems to him older
and more holy than the figures of the personal Gods. The great holy thing
which
Holderlin recognizes in nature is nothing that is close or familiar to man; he
cannot, as it were, feel his way into it, he cannot discover himself in it, nor, as
the past age was able to do, can he look on nature as a kinswoman and a friend.
The great holy thing is none of these things, rather it is something that
wholly lacks a human character, or even an organic character, a thing that has
neither personality nor destiny. It is something that is the very opposite to the
nature of man, it is the universal thing, a thing that cannot actually be felt and is
infinite. Holderlin likes best to designate it as stille (quietness or silence),
thus contrasting it with the busy activities of men. In order to approach it, man
must first destroy himself, he must go to his death.cccxxi
And finally he gives a sort of summation of all these destructive, dark
influences as they have been in the history of Western art. And although he
himself was a lover of art before the Revolution, that is, up to the eighteenth
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century, in this little history of his, he shows very well that these destructive
influences go right back precisely to the moment where we discussed the
beginning of the apostasy, that is, the twelfth century.
The first outburst of this demonic elements, he says, occurs in the late
Romanesque. It is in this phase that the sacred world is suddenly endowed to a
quite terrifying degree with a demoniac character. Thus in the doorways of
various cathedrals, the sacred figures have the appearances of corpses and of
ghosts, a thing that can in no wise be explained by a certain remoteness from
humanity that marks the art of the high Middle Ages. Christ sometimes resembles
an Asiatic idol or an Asiatic despot. The Apocalyptic beasts and the angels are all
distorted by this demoniac quality. This curious phenomenon cannot be explained
in terms of the dual intention that is discernable in much medieval art, the
intention to administer a certain awful shock to the beholder and at the same
time, by means of the sheer absurdity of the visible symbols [it created], to spur
his mind towards purely spiritual contemplation; for directly beside the sacred
figures, and in the very midst of them, and indeed scarcely distinguishable from
them at all, are images of demons and of demoniac beasts and chimaeras that
even invade the interior of the church.
At the same time the figures themselves begin to acquire a most
remarkable and unprecedented quality of instability. Those on the great arch
above the door of the Cathedral at Vezelay seem positively to be tottering, and
look as though they might crash down at any moment from the great curve on
which they have so precarious a footing. This is the period when figures begin to
be tangentially affixed to the frames of the great doors, and it is to this period
that belongs the great Wheel of Fortune that lifts a man up and [ineluctably]
casts him down, and it is this period also that for the very first time stands
architectural forms upon their heads.
All this is the visible expression of [that volubilitas rerum,] that
instability of human affairs, that people have suddenly begun to feel with a
peculiar and painful intensity. It is in fact the visible symbol for the dominant
mood, the dominant feeling about life and the world.
In religion the dominant emotion is fear, the principal theme is the Day
of Judgment, expressed to the uttermost potential of all the terror that it can
inspire. In the crypt-like gloom of the church we can with our minds eye see the
faithful standing in fear and trembling before God. Never has the [mysterium
tremendum] tremendous mystery attained such force over mens minds.cccxxii
So, already for some reason art begins to become unstable. Although the
main Gothic tradition goes on with its great cathedrals, still he senses here some
kind of instability. Why? Because they, at that time they began to realize that
they had lost Orthodoxy. And the artist is more sensitive than other people. This
begins to come out in him. And when Orthodoxy is lost, the demons begin to
come in. And therefore the demons directly inspire the artists.
Then theres a second period, which is that of
Hieronymus Bosch. In the Romanesque period the demoniac world had really
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not yet achieved a separate life of its own. It is only in the Gothic that light and
darkness are divided and the cathedral indirectly brings into being as its polar
opposite to the
Heavenly Kingdom, which is shown forth in itself, a Kingdom of
Hell, even though this [last] remains [essentially] still a subordinate thing.
[Then] Thus as the representational art of the late Middle Ages develops, we
begin to get painted representations of Hell. The culminating point of this
development is to be found in Hieronymus Bosch who flourished
[between 1480 and 1516.] around 1500.
Bosch, a contemporary [and actual co-eval] of Leonardo da Vinci,
created the world of Hell as a kind of chaotic counterpart to the new cosmic art
of the High Renaissance, which we already saw, this idealistic, chiliastic
painting, and what is entirely new about Boschs infernal world is that it has its
own creative principles, its own chaotic structure, its own formal laws, and it is
really these that make it into a true counterworld to the worlds of Heaven and
earth. It is only since Bosch that we have anything like a picture of Hell made
visible.
There is definite novelty in the very shapes of these creatures from Hell.
They are not fallen children of men, who by a simple process of metamorphosis
have been turned into beasts of the Devil, but they are wholly independent and
as yet unknown forms of life, born of the marriage of every conceivable kind of
creature, fish, beast, bird, witch and mandrake, the products of a kind of
ungoverned cosmic lewdness and debauchery, in which even lifeless things can
mingle with the living. All this was something that lay wholly outside the
horizons of antiquity.
New also is the actual scenery of Hell, and we see aspects of the face of
this earth which had never before been put on canvas. We see here dark gulfs,
empty stretches of earth and sea that seem to tell us how utterly God has
forsaken them, the desolation of empty cities, strange hideous places whose
vegetation are gallows-trees and wheels of torture, slime and morass. Here are
neither sun nor moon, such light as there is comes from vast conflagrations or
from the irridescence of strange phosphorescent shapes. Hell can show us the
work of human hands, but it is distorted, arid in decay. Above all we see ruins,
we see them continually -- and in Hell there are also arsenals, a fighting
equipment of strange machines, pieces of apparatus that are often meaningless,
though sometimes they have a meaning, being instruments of torture, while
through the air sail airships, demon manned and demon piloted.cccxxiii
So long, however, as the world of Christian belief remained an effective
reality -- and at this time it was still real, that is, Catholicism was still real, and
even Protestantism had something left of Christianity -- So long...as the world
of Christian belief remained an effective reality, the outlook behind such painting
must be interpreted as a vision of temptation. The picturing of Hell therefore
remained to some extent hemmed in by Christian orthodoxy [stet] and it was thus
only to be expected that it should attain its full freedom and develop its most
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extreme forms when art has finally left the Christian world behind it. It is,
therefore, wholly logical that Hieronymus Bosch should have been rediscovered
in the twentieth century and should have become one of the original parents of
Surrealism.cccxxiv
In Bruegel -- and we showed you -- In Bruegels work there appears
another dominant theme of modern art, the depreciation of man. Man is looked at
from the outside; as something distasteful and strange, much as we might regard
creatures of another planet. Seen thus men appear base, unlovely and perverse,
clumsy, innane and absurd -- creatures in fact possessing every quality capable of
exciting contempt, and this is true not only of the peasant, of whom the late
Middle Ages tended rather to take this view, but of man in general. In the art of
Bruegel several undercurrents of medieval art unite to form a new picture of man,
one which represents him as the very antithesis and negation of holiness,
greatness, nobility and wisdom.
The world of man, the world in which he must act and live, is a world in
which all is done wrong, a world of chaos and wholly without meaning. Lurking
about him everywhere are the creatures of Hell. Death and madness lie in wait all
around him. It is moreover a matter worthy of especial note that Bruegel pays
such particular attention to the things which are the special preoccupation of
modern psychology and the modern mind in general, for his interest is drawn in a
remarkable manner, not towards the peasant alone (the analogy here is with our
contemporary concern with the primitive), but also to children, halfwits,
cripples, epileptics, to the victims of blindness and intoxication, to the mass and
to apes. Even quite ordinary things have a spell cast over them that make them
look strange to the point of being unintelligible -- much as Bruegels Beekeepers
look like walking tree-trunks -- so that a game played by children looks like some
weird new manifestation of lunacy.cccxxv
This brief glance at the past makes it clear that what was to become a
general disease in the nineteenth century was coming gradually into being right
throughout the development of the West and at various times overtly showed
certain of its symptoms.cccxxvi
And he concludes his book by saying, It may be a somewhat
questionable proceeding to designate ones own age as the turning-point in the
history of [the world] mankind, nevertheless it is difficult to shake off the
feeling that since 1900 a kind of limit has been reached and that we are faced by
something wholly without precedent. In the worlds history. Beyond this limit
it is difficult to imagine anything except one of two things -- total catastrophe or
the beginnings of regeneration.cccxxvii Of course, whats coming seems to be a
kind of combination of the two.
Music
About music, we wont go in; its too long a topic, but its enough to
mention one great historian of Western music, Alfred Frankenstein, who died a
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few, some years ago. And hes an expert in the Baroque period, the classical
period, the Romantic period, the Medieval music. Hes written I believe a long
textbook of
Western music. And when he comes to the twentieth century he says, With this I
end my history of music.cccxxviii Because after the beginning of the twentieth
century theres no longer music in the West. There is something which is entirely
on new principles, which cannot be understood by the history of Western music.
And therefore hes very much criticized for the fact that he feels modern music is
totally outside any kind of tradition. Of course it is. Because we have at this time
mus, the Romantics who already said as much as they could say. You get in
Scriabin a terrible kind of ecstatic music which is some kind of screeching, and
beyond that...
Fr. H: What did he write...?
Fr. S: He wrote a sort of Black Mass actually.
Fr. S: Musical Black Mass?
Fr. S: And beyond this you cant go in the regular, the old idioms of European
music. And so they begin these frightful experiments: the twelve tone system,
Schoenberg and his frightful operas, he wrote Verklarte Nacht when the people
are screeching at each other for hours on end; and its obviously meant to put you
in a crazy house. But its very sort of expresses the period, expressionistic, you
know, these German Expressionists with their screaming people and frightful
horrors -- expresses the same kind of feelings. And from that time on, theres all
these experiments until you get now that theres concertos for tape, three tape
recorders, played simultaneously forwards and backwards at five different
speeds, and all these ideas that hurly-churly chant sounds will produce some kind
of new wonder.
Theres even a textbook of music. Its called, I think its called Music Since
Debussy in which he says that the age right now produces no music which is
worth anything because its all experiment. But he said, Out of all this
experiment, perhaps there will come a new Golden Age, like the age of Bach and
Handelcccxxix -- once all these experiments have been finished. And probably -its something to say, something true there because mankind has gotten used to all
these things; and therefore its possible to reconstruct, if a person is a genius, to
take all these elements of disorder and come up with some kind of a new
harmony. And theres already a new harmony which will express the feelings of
the people, and will be for Antichrist. And in fact, Thomas Mann has already
written a novel about that.
Thomas Mann
Well, well say one word about Thomas Mann. Hes probably the only
great novelist the twentieth century produced. M-A-N-N. He died in 1955 at the
age of 80. He was an exile from
Germany during the reign of Hitler. Politically hes very boring -- hes a
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democrat -- and looks for the reconstruction of humanity after totalitarianism has
passed. But in his art hes very sensitive, more like a German, he goes very deep.
[Editing in sections from Nietzsche 1980 Lecture] You may recall in one of his
books, he talks about young students talking together all night long, theyre
talking [about] what is reality, what is truth, is there life after death? And in the
middle of it they say, You know, I bet we Germans are the only people in the
world except for the Russians who do this kind of thing, just talking all night
about whats real, and what isnt real.He recognizes Russians are the ones who
expert....
And he wrote several novels which reflect this -- from the point of view of,
well, an artist looking at the whole of society - - reflect what is going on. Hes not
a nihilist; hes a humanist who has a very positive outlook on life. But he writes
about some of these movements, and sometimes very, very profoundly.
He wrote a book called The Magic Mountain, [one] of his best books,
which is a description of life in a tuberculosis asylum, clinic in the mountains of
Switzerland. And this is supposed to be an allegory of modern European history
at the end of the first World War -- either the end or beginning -- anyway, just in
the dawn of our own day. And this is a peculiar kind of place where everybody
has all kinds of strange philosophies, which means all the different conflicting
philosophies of Europe. And everybody who comes there gets sick, because
Europe is sick. Its sort of a parable of everybody who comes in contact with
Western civilization absorbs this sickness. You cant escape it. And the place
where theyre supposed to be curing, that is, Europe, has the ability, the idea that
We are the ones who know everything. Were going to cure you with our
Enlightenment. But you go there; you get in mixed up with Europe, and you get
sick yourself. No matter how you try, you dont get cured. Nobody goes back
alive. Theyre sort of all killed off by this thing. In fact you cannot go to this, you
cannot visit your relatives in this place without getting sick and you have to stay
there. [Youre] stuck. In other words, they [have] no other philosophy of life to
overcome this sickness of Europe.
In fact theres one very interesting scene where they go to the movies.
Theres a movie. And Thomas Mann gives his perceptions about the film, that the
film is a very abnormal thing, a horrible thing because what is sacred to man, his
own image, is captured, put independently on a screen and then acts in spite of
you and youre hopeless, youre helpless. And the image goes on acting from
then on. Its as though a part of your soul has been taken away from you. And he
can sit back and watch himself as though hes just kind of a separate being. Hes
gives his sort of feelings from natural human sense, because he was there at the
beginning of motion pictures, 1920s. In Germany was the great flowering of
movies. He had a frightful feeling about movie, that
its something demonic. And he says the whole thing is very abnormal, makes
him feel very uneasy to see these ghost-like figures on the screen, which have
no reality in themselves, only celluloid, some kind of a flickering picture,
something that isnt there.
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And by the way I had a German professor who the same feeling about
telephones. He said, I cant stand telephones.
Whenever I hear it ring and I pick it up, I get terribly afraid. I hear a voice of
somebody a thousand miles away and I feel its demons. Its very interesting
how these deep thinkers have feelings like that.
And he [Thomas Mann] then goes into things like sances; [he]
deliberately went to a sance to experiment to see if anything happens. And it
did. The table moved away from the air or something kind of thing. He was
persuaded theres some kind of power there. So he has that also as part of this
Magic Mountain. At the end, he has this one very striking scene where someone
says, Lets have a sance, we have somebody here who can conjur spirits. And
everybody says, Oh, wonderful! And most people are sort of joking about it,
Well, you can believe in all kinds of things, why dont we believe in that? Lets
try it out. And they all get together, and all of a sudden a spirit begins to grip
them, and they see before their eyes some kind of a shape begin to form, to
materialize. And when they look, it is the ghost of somebody they all know, a
spectre, somebodys father or something all of a sudden appears in front of them
all; and they are so frightened by this, that it produces a terrible effect upon them.
And this is sort of stuck in there with no sort of statement why, but we know that
Thomas Mann in his non-fictio